Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Omnibus Post

1. I was watching some C*SPAN a couple weeks ago and a bunch of oil company execs were testifying before the House. A few of them, in their opening statements, expressed support for a carbon tax. What? How could that be? Then MIT just published a report predicting natural gas to be a winner under a carbon tax regime (see also NYT, Slashdot). And the oil companies mostly have big natural gas operations as well.

2. And natural gas is often touted as a clean fuel, so maybe that's not so bad. Except for fracking. Ah, to hell with NPOV, there's a film (and associated website) on the subject that takes a considerably bolder stance on the issue.

3. Usually when considering issues of politics and business I remind myself that it's unlikely any of the actors have evil intent. But sometimes the mining industry makes me wonder. With all the news that comes out of Appalachia about mountaintop removal and all the nasty pollution that comes from the mines there. With a giant oil slick in the Gulf of Mexico, something that, we now know, will necessarily be repeated if a similar accident ever again occurs (and yet it's so important that we start deep-water drilling again! Immediately!). And now with this "fracking" stuff. And how they've infiltrated the government that's supposed to regulate them! Becoming exempt from the Clean Water Act and refusing to disclose the chemicals that are seeping into groundwater. These guys must have to shave their mustachios off every five minutes.

4. Wyoming has taken the first steps toward regulation of fracking. Way to go, Wyoming! Also, this reminds me of the story told by a friend a couple years ago about stopping for lunch in a small Wyoming town and finding the restaurant staff unable to concentrate when taking orders or remember requests... as if the whole town's water or air was bad. Maybe there's a connection.

5. I was going to write about more than just fracking, so here goes. It seems like during the peak of oil spill coverage the hot interview subjects were gulf-coast fishermen and seafood restaurateurs. It almost felt like if people wanted to report that the oil spill was indeed a big deal they had to show that it was killing the Gulf economy. But that's silly. Drilling is the Gulf economy — it dwarfs fishing, for one thing. BP is big enough and profitable enough to survive even after paying cleanup costs and damages — it would be big enough to survive even if it had to pay for the full economic impact of the spill over time, and it surely won't pay that much. But, environmentally, damage has been done that only time can heal, and lots of time at that. I think lots of people understand that part of the story, and the media seem almost afraid to mention it. That it's a tragedy, a tragedy because there's death at the end, and loss.

5a. #5 and #3. Of course, they really don't have evil intent. They can poison a few people, raise everyone else's standards of living, and make lots of money doing it. Mining execs probably care deeply for their own families, maybe even their own communities. If real decision-makers at mining companies (and also factory farms) lived and worked at the sites they designed and built, along with their families, our world would look a lot different.

6. Speaking of fishermen, I've never seen Deadliest Catch, but I've seen the ads, of course. It seems that the story could be turned around — Deadliest Swim, which follows and casts as heroes fish that find themselves in the paths of these enormous boats. But then every episode would have a sad ending. I did catch a bit of that show about loggers... don't remember what it was called... TREEFUCKERS!, perhaps? Anyway, it had this tense, evil-sounding music playing as it showed a grove of trees just standing in a swamp. You know, the music they'd play on a detective show as the prison guard announces that the murderer has escaped. Then the hero arrives on the scene, gets in his TF-9000 ULTIMATE TREE-FUCKING CONTRAPTION, and goes to town. Can he cut down every tree by nightfall? The music reaches a feverish pitch as the sun starts to set, then it climaxes as he plows through the last tree just as the sun sinks. Then a peaceful yet triumphant chord is held out across the scene of the devastated swamp. Now I feel great about using paper.

7. There is an intersection in Seattle between N. 45th St. and some side street west of I-5. It has a stoplight. But only for 45th St. The side street has stop signs. This light indeed turns red and stops the traffic on 45th, and I have no idea what cross traffic does at this point. How someone crossing knows when it's about to turn green and they should not go through. I must be missing something, right? But I've rode my bike through it twice in the last couple days, and I'm pretty sure that's what it is. WEIRD.

8. I just played at my first open mic in Seattle, at some little bar with couches on 45th in Wallingford. It was probably about the best atmosphere and crowd for my style I could have hoped for. I made lots of mistakes but didn't lose the beat, and I played with as much energy as I could fit through Dad's little old guitar. If I focus I can probably get all the energy I have through that guitar, but it will take a lot more practice. Or maybe I'll get a new guitar that's not so hard to tune and play.

1 comment:

olyphant said...


totally our next rpm name.

god i miss you.