Cannibalism is…never having to say you’re sorry…for belching…
I’m not sure if I’m fit to fill Chuck Heston’s shoes. Edward G. Robinson? Sure. This post is something I wrote for my day job that I thought bared repeating: There is something so ghoulish and distasteful in using human fat to power a vehicle that it’s not even funny.
Cannibalism—the actual consumption of human flesh, not that radical political theory that anyone working for someone else is being eaten alive—is the last of the great taboos, only broken by hidden primordial tribes or the rest of us under the most extreme circumstances—circumstances that sometimes can be caused by both external and internal factors. Both Russian and German troops turned to cannibalism during the harsh winters of the Second World War, and the tragedy of the Uruguayan futbol team is so well known as to be the punchline of jokes. Part of the transgression (and fun!) of the book and film Fight Clubwas the young men’s use of liposuctioned fat to make beautifully-scented 100% green, all-natural soap. But in the world of Fight Club, the protagonist(s), as part of their greater Project Mayhemseries of pranks, sell the soap to department stores whose clients are the very people being liposuctioned. But it is with horror that we usually consider ideas like people (or parts thereof) being turned into soap. Although discredited, the rumor that the Nazis turned concentration camp victims into soap was so strong that it took years to dispel.
THE GASTANK THAT DRIPPED BLOOD It was with bemused horror that I read about Dr. Craig Alan Bittnerof the ultra-swanky Beverly Hills, California, and how he is rumored to have used the siphoned lard of rich dowagers to fuel his Ford SUV and his girlfriend’s Lincoln Navigator. Bittner wrote on his now defunct site, lipodiesel.com, "The vast majority of my patients request that I use their fat for fuel--and I have more fat than I can use. Not only do they get to lose their love handles or chubby belly but they get to take part in saving the Earth." But is this really an extreme circumstance? Are we so attached to a lifestyle that’s rapidly being revealed as superfluous and wasteful, that we are willing to use the flesh of humansto fuel our vehicles? Is this the kind of savagery we must resort to simply to drive a car? Bittner is under investigation by the California Department of Public Health for the improper disposal of medical waste, and engineers are questioning his veracity.
In the 1970s, Hasford wrote a macabre short story about overpopulation and cannibalism. Titled “The Disneyland Man,” it can be found HERE; check it out, it’s good. After my essay was printed (in a somewhat altered form, and with a different title), the magazine that pays my rent received some letters. One engineer (a man with about a decade’s experience with a major fuel additives company) wrote:
With great amusement I read your story. For years already, a number of colleagues and I have been joking morbidly about the possibility of HTL (humans to liquids) next to GTL, CTL and BTL (Gas to Liquids/Biomass to Liquids/Coal to Liquids). We took the joke as far as calculating how long HTL would allow us to replace the current consumption of crude oil (86 million barrels/day).
Assuming a human population of 6 billion, an average human mass of 70 kilograms and 18% wt of C, further assuming all C could be transformed to hydrocarbons with an average C/H ratio of 1.5 and assuming that the resulting chemical mix would have a density and caloric value equal to gasoline, we calculate it wouldn't last more than 1 or 2 weeks.
In fact, my own body mass wouldn't allow my family to drive more than 200-300 miles in our moderately efficient car (Ford Escort station wagon from 1997). This calculation puts our current energy consumption in a rather shocking perspective I think.
That was my original idea for the title of this blog, a sort of summation of nearly everything I'd ever wanted cinematically: regularly playing on the ABC Channel 7 4:30 movie--or on WOR-TV Channel 9's 4 O'Clock Movie--the greatest monster movie in the universe, and incredible combo of miniatures, men in suits and stop motion, with entire continents destroyed!
But then there was a coup d'etat, and Tzar Ivan I of Ivanlandia took charge.