Thursday, March 29, 2007

A Tale Of Two Houses

Saw on a great little piece.

Now, if you're not familiar with, it's an Urban Legends site that tries to stem the tide of ignorance and half-truths. You know, the stories about the guy waking up in a tub of ice with his kidneys gone. The missing kids. The syringes in the McDonald's playground. And those blasted "forward this to a friend and get money from Microsoft ... or AOL ... or ..."

And the list goes on and on.

Anyway, is a great source for debunking ... or confirming ... different Urban Legends.

And I saw a good one this week. And, best of all, it's true.

It's the one about the email that's going around -- you may or may not have received it -- comparing the houses of George W. Bush and Al Gore.

Here's the email:

HOUSE # 1:

A 20-room mansion (not including 8 bathrooms) heated by natural gas. Add on a pool (and a pool house) and a separate guest house all heated by gas. In ONE MONTH ALONE this mansion consumes more energy than the average American household in an ENTIRE YEAR. The average bill for electricity and natural gas runs over $2,400.00 per month. In natural gas alone (which last time we checked was a fossil fuel), this property consumes more than 20 times the national average for an American home. This house is not in a northern or Midwestern "snow belt," either. It's in the South.

HOUSE # 2:

Designed by an architecture professor at a leading national university, this house incorporates every "green" feature current home construction can provide. The house contains only 4,000 square feet (4 bedrooms) and is nestled on arid high prairie in the American southwest. A central closet in the house holds geothermal heat pumps drawing ground water through pipes sunk 300 feet into the ground. The water (usually 67 degrees F.) heats the house in winter and cools it in summer. The system uses no fossil fuels such as oil or natural gas, and it consumes 25% of the electricity required for a conventional heating/cooling system. Rainwater from the roof is collected and funneled into a 25,000 gallon underground cistern. Wastewater from showers, sinks and toilets goes into underground purifying tanks and then into the cistern. The collected water then irrigates the land surrounding the house. Flowers and shrubs native to the area blend the property into the surrounding rural landscape.

HOUSE # 1 (20 room energy guzzling mansion) is outside of Nashville, Tennessee. It is the abode of that renowned environmentalist (and filmmaker) Al Gore.

HOUSE # 2 (model eco-friendly house) is on a ranch near Crawford, Texas. Also known as "the Texas White House," it is the private residence of the President of the United States, George W. Bush.

So whose house is gentler on the environment? Yet another story you WON'T hear on CNN, CBS, ABC, NBC, MSNBC or read about in the New York Times or the Washington Post. Indeed, for Mr. Gore, it's truly "an inconvenient truth."

I fell out laughing when I read this ... particularly when researched it and found it to contain what they termed "a fair bit of truth."

Now, I'm not taking strictly at their word. And they don't ask you to believe them without researching for yourself. *

I obtained a subscription to the Austin American-Statesman archives to check out the sources they list at the bottom of the page. And, sure enough, I reached the same conclusion they did.

Like the email says, "truly an inconvenient truth."


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  2. This is quite illuminating. It does lead me to another question, though. Are there any other buildings on the Texas property and how are they constructed?

  3. I'm sending this to some 'geek' friends who just love how al sticks his foot in his mouth...

  4. I spoke with the editor of the Tenn. Center for Policy Research, an "indie" group that first "broke" this story. (Check out their donor list, hardly "non-partisan") She is basically ignorant of what she is doing (fact-checking). The only "fact" she checked was whether it was Kwatt or just plain watts, self-admittedly. She also said their "point" (read: opinion) was that Gore is not reduce his consumption after coming out with his movie, a far cry from the inaccuracies put out as "fact". Even snopes they fell for some pretty stupid stuff.

  5. Stickler:
    And when you contacted the Mikkelsons about it, what was their reply?

  6. Are you kidding, Basil? If he called the Mikkelsons he might actually verify the facts!! Maybe Stickler should check with Cindy...didn't she have a 'building' in the vacinity of the ranch in Crawford.

  7. Wow, I loved the moie an inconvenient truth. The wife and I watched it twice at least.

    So i hoped the story was false, but it isn't WOW.

    A copy of the email I got and pictures are at my Penn Jersey website link. Comments are welcome.


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