4,086 a gallon

Given that I am relying more and more on mnemonic devices to cover for my cranial sieve, it's astonishing what I remember so clearly about the bitter cold day in early 2003 when my consort and I put on 15 layers, took the train to Columbus Circle and followed the Bread and Puppets Theater contingent far across Midtown to spend bitterly cold hours penned up by the NYPD while impassioned speakers including Desmond Tutu railed against the war we probably all knew was inevitable. We met equally frostbitten friends afterward for a late lunch of mostly frites in a booth at the Brasserie, convinced the protest had been a bust because all we knew was what we could see from our pen. Logging onto the Guardian that night gave a whole different perspective; the entire world had been out in droves with one message: No Blood for Oil.

So pardon me if I don't nod sympathetically every time I hear a high-profile, job-secure "journalist" bleating mea culpas in the wake of Slimy Scotty's attempted image-laundering. You don't need to be a molecular gastronomist to read a recipe for disaster. . . .

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