Generally, when I read an article in a magazine, or a newspaper, that's it. I note it for its humor, or its interestingness, or lack thereof, and I never look at it again. But there are those rare few that I love to read over and over - well, at least every six months or so.
"The Oil We Eat" by Richard Manning is one of those. It originally appeared in Harper's magazine in February 2004, and it really resonated with me. I recently read it again, and this time I decided to share it with you:
The secret of great wealth with no obvious source is some forgotten crime, forgotten because it was done neatly. —Balzac
The journalist's rule says: follow the money. This rule, however, is not really axiomatic but derivative, in that money, as even our vice president will tell you, is really a way of tracking energy. We'll follow the energy.
We learn as children that there is no free lunch, that you don't get something from nothing, that what goes up must come down, and so on. The scientific version of these verities is only slightly more complex. As James Prescott Joule discovered in the nineteenth century, there is only so much energy. You can change it from motion to heat, from heat to light, but there will never be more of it and there will never be less of it. The conservation of energy is not an option, it is a fact. This is the first law of thermodynamics.
Special as we humans are, we get no exemptions from the rules. The rest here...