Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Dirty dishes, milk spills, and other hazards to humanity

Perhaps, like the Poppycocks, you’ve noticed in recent months that your ‘automatic’ dishwasher doesn’t seem to be cutting the mustard, in a manner of speaking.  In particular, we’ve noticed that silverware comes out of the machine, after it runs, looking a bit shabby. 

We rinse everything before it goes in the machine, so asking it to ‘scrub’ things clean isn’t the point.  Simply put, getting silverware that looks this way in a restaurant would result in us asking for clean replacements.

Turns out this is not our imagination.  Thanks to an anti-phosphate movement that began in the state of Washington, dishwasher detergent has been reformulated, and not only does it not clean your dishes like it used to, it leaves the inside of your dishwasher far less sparkling.

As usually happens in such cases, the intentions were good, the politics were high profile, and the consequences were not exactly as predicted.  Here’s a detailed article that explains the entire process.  It contains this rather direct passage right up front:

It so happens that in the last six months, a lot of people have suddenly discovered their dishwashers don’t work as well as they used to. The problem, though, isn’t the dishwashers. It’s the soap. Last July, acceding to pressure from environmentalists, America’s dishwasher detergent manufacturers decided to change their formulas. And the new detergents stink.

We’re reminded of the ginormous international brouhaha over global warming, which has been shown, from time to time, to have underpinnings that are anything but scientific.  Turns out the dishwasher detergent crisis suffers from a bit of the same over-sudsing:

Some of the effluents making their way into the river contained phosphorus in complex molecular forms which are not bioavailable. Algae lack the enzymes necessary to break down this phosphorus, meaning it is essentially harmless. The study was a useful reminder that all science is settled. Until it’s not.

File this next item under “You Can’t Make This Stuff Up.”

Many of us grew up hearing such sage advice as ‘don’t cry over spilled (or was it spilt?) milk.’  And here at Side we never thought much about it until recently.

There is no shortage of problems facing our country, and they are real, profound, and daunting.  From where we sit, or walk, we didn’t think spilled milk was one of them.  We should have known better.

It turns out that the EPA, ever vigilant for new causes of disaster they can prevent through ‘appropriate’ regulations, no matter how slight the probability or how trivial the effects, has seized upon spilt milk as just such a cause. 

One wonders whether there is a second deputy assistant undersecretary of enviromental protection whose sole purpose in life is to protect us from the disaster that is spilled milk.  And wiping milk moustaches from the lips of devoted milk drinkers nationwide, lest a drop or two hit the ground and not be remediated before the damage is done.

We’re making light of this, but in the very real sense, the story, which is real, points out just how over-reaching an unfettered administrative state can be.  The old saying goes ‘when you’re a hammer, everything looks like a nail.’  It certainly applies in this case.

Lest you think we’re pulling your teat on this one, we are not.  This is an udderly true news item.  You can read about it here.

You can whet your whistle with this:

..the EPA has decided that, since milk contains oil, it has the authority to force farmers to comply with new regulations to file "emergency management" plans to show how they will cope with spilled milk, how farmers will train "first responders" and build "containment facilities" if there is a flood of spilled milk.

It is going to cost the taxpayers money as well, since the EPA is going to have to hire people to inspect farms, inspect farmers' reports and prosecute farmers who don't jump through all the right hoops in the right order.

As for us, we don’t want to be seen as milking the news to find the cream that rises to the top, so we’ll simply whip things up right here. 

If you want a cherry on top, you’ll have to provide it yourself.  And good night, Elsie, wherever you are.


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