power behind drilling

“Oil price spikes have preceded 10 of the last 11 U.S. recessions, so we need to eliminate this vulnerability.” – Diana Farrell, Deputy Director of the National Economic Council.

Gregor Macdonald:

Two industries dwarf any other influence on US energy policy… the Automobile and the Highway Construction complex.

There is a rather antiquated belief that the oil and gas industry drives US energy policy.  This is usually framed in people’s minds as a pleading oil and gas lobbyist making sure that the US stays hooked on oil.

While this image may be accurate with regards to the US coal industry, which does indeed have heavy influence on Congress and policy, it’s much less the case with oil and gas. And here’s why: The US automobile industry and the US highway construction industry performs all the heavy lifting one could require…

booze melts cells

Our hippocampus is necessary:

Then the researchers examined the brains of the monkeys that kept drinking … and found that they had a 80-90% reduction in stem cells in a portion of their brain known as the hippocampus compared with the monkeys kept sober.

committee overhead

Superb example where everybody is an official and nobody is a citizen.

After four years, $300,000 in legal bills and a three-week court trial, a San Francisco fishmonger is facing eviction from the port – all over a bathroom. The bathroom is part of a trailer that William Dawson inherited 17 years ago when he opened his fish-processing business on Pier 33.

Nobody paid much attention to the trailer until 2006 when the fire marshal declared it a hazard, saying it would block fire trucks if they needed to get onto the wooden pier. However, without the bathroom for his workers his business would be shut down.

He offered to build a new toilet on the property, and even hired an architect to draw up plans.

Then the finger-pointing began.

Port property manager Susan Reynolds says Dawson wanted the port to pay for the $29,000 sewage hookup, which the port said it couldn’t afford. Dawson’s attorney, Kurt Peterson, insists his client was always willing to pay for the hookup, but wanted permission to keep the trailer until the new toilet was built. “Their position was the trailer needed to go immediately,” Peterson said.

As a result, Dawson found himself in a Catch-22 – if he satisfied the fire marshal and the port, the health department might shut him down. So he kept the trailer and its toilet, prompting the port to declare he was no longer a tenant in good standing and therefore was ineligible for a permit to build a new bathroom. The standoff eventually wound up in court, where a jury hung before the two sides agreed to have the judge rule – and he sided with the port.

“It’s just crazy,” said former Mayor Art Agnos, a friend of Dawson’s who tried to mediate a settlement with the city. “They want to kill him over a bathroom.” “I wish this was just about the bathroom,” says the port’s Reynolds. Dawson, it seems, spent so much on his court fight that he couldn’t come up with the $167,000 in back rent that the city was barred from collecting during the battle.

Dawson’s attorney expressed confidence Friday that a deal was near to spare the fishmonger and his nine employees from being evicted. Meanwhile, it’s been nearly four years since the port has been able to collect rent from the business – but if you head out to Pier 33, you’ll see the toilet-equipped trailer unmoved.

weary of conversation

Dave Pollard:

The ghastly BP oil spill is not the fault of a small group of evil people, nor would it have been averted if the leader(s) of BP and the other organizations now playing the blame game, cared more about the environment. I am beginning to believe the same is true of all social organizations. The importance of leadership, and of change initiatives, I think, are vastly overrated.

We are, each of us, just the space through which stuff passes. No one is that important, or consequential, and no one is in control.

This is just who we are, collectively, doing our best and discovering that we can do no better than bring about the sixth known great extinction of life on this planet.

tangles of unique

oops. lost the link to this:

“For a long while I have believed – this is perhaps my version of Sir Darius Xerxes Cama’s belief in a fourth function of outsideness – that in every generation there are a few souls, call them lucky or cursed, who are simply born not belonging, who come into the world semi-detached, if you like, without strong affiliation to family or location or nation or race; that there may even be millions, billions of such souls, as many non-belongers as belongers, perhaps; that, in sum, the phenomenon may be as “natural” a manifestation of human nature as its opposite, but one that has been mostly frustrated, throughout human history, by lack of opportunity.

And not only by that: for those who value stability, who fear transience, uncertainly, change, have erected a powerful system of stigmas and taboos against rootlessness, that disruptive, anti-social force, so that we mostly conform, we pretend to be motivated by loyalties and solidarities we do not really feel, we hide our secret identities beneath the false skins of those identities which bear the belongers’ seal of approval.

But the truth leaks out in our dreams; alone in our beds (because we are all alone at night, even if we do not sleep by ourselves), we soar, we fly, we flee.

And in the waking dreams our societies permit, in our myths, our arts, our songs, we celebrate the non-belongers, the different ones, the outlaws, the freaks.  What we forbid ourselves we pay good money to watch, in a playhouse or a movie theatre, or to read about between the secret covers of a book.  Our libraries, our palaces of entertainment tell the truth.  The tramp, the assassin, the rebel, the thief, the mutant, the outcast, the delinquent, the devil, the sinner, the traveller, the gangster, the runner, the mask: if we did not recognize in them our least-fulfilled needs, we would not invent them over and over again, in every place, in every language, in every time.”  ~ Salman Rushdie, The Ground Beneath Her Feet

politics makes the future

Robert Parry:

In watching TV news accounts of the recent American disasters – a massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, a fatal mine explosion in West Virginia, continuing economic fallout from Wall Street excesses, worsening fears about the impact of the massive U.S. debt – I was struck by the absence of one name: George W. Bush.

Journalists were following an unwritten rule: that is, the former President was not to be mentioned as a culprit in these catastrophes.

References to how problems had been getting worse for 10 years at the Mineral Management Services, the federal agency which has been rubber-stamping plans for deepwater oil rigs, it was as if no one was willing to do the math and calculate who was in charge during most of that time.

Similarly, when the nation’s $1.2 trillion budget deficit was discussed as a grave threat to the economy, it was never mentioned how the nation got to this point, how the Congressional Budget Office had been projecting $850 billion annual surpluses when Bush took over in 2001.

taste of a cookie

There is no civilization without deep discontent.

“A good deal of modern American culture is an extended experiment in the effects of depriving people of what they crave most.

Happiness is within range only for adroit people who give the slip to America’s values.”  – Thomas Lewis

Retain wonder. The abandonment of the part of ourselves that is in touch with the ‘miraculous’ is abandonment of life.

Carl Jung tells the story of a man who comes to him for therapy, apparently at the insistence of his wife.

The man is dull as a stick: a Swiss high school principal of about sixty years of age, who did everything “right” all his life, and never experienced a moment of ecstasy or imagination. Jung suggests that he keep a record of his dreams, which he does, showing up at the second session with something potentially disturbing. He dreamt that he entered a darkened room, and found a three-year-old infant covered with feces, and crying. What, he asked Dr. Jung, could it mean? Jung decided not to tell him the obvious: that the baby was himself, that it had had the life crushed out of it at an early age, and was now crying out to be heard. Exposing the “shadow” to the light of day, Jung told himself, would precipitate a psychosis in this poor guy; he wouldn’t be able to handle the psychic confrontation. So Jung gave him some sort of neutral explanation, saw the man a few more times, finally pronounced him “cured,” and let him go.

Morris Berman writes :

One wonders if the good doctor did the right thing. Is a living death preferable to a psychotic awakening?

On the other hand—and I have a feeling Jung would agree with me on this—aren’t we all that man, to some degree? Perhaps not as wigged out, but it may be a question of degree, nothing more.

Tolstoy wrote that it was but a slight step from a five-year-old boy to a man of fifty, but a huge distance between a newborn and a five-year-old.

tip to Ms. Humorzo

loneliness swallowed me

Emily White:

There was a relentlessness to my loneliness.

I felt a certain dumbing down in the midst of my loneliness. I couldn’t read as quickly or as well as I used to. I wasn’t as imaginative. I said less. Without people around me, I began to feel as though I were taking up less space. I sometimes felt so ungrounded, so immaterial and unreal, that I thought I might just drift away.

going sane

Sanity involves learning to enjoy conflict:

Tyrannical fantasies of our own perfectibility lurk in even our simplest ideals, Darwin and Freud intimate, so that any ideal can become another excuse for punishment. Lives dominated by impossible ideals, complete honesty, absolute knowledge, perfect happiness, eternal love are experienced as continuous failure.

Adam Phillips, psychoanalyst:

If you have a sense of reality you are going to be really troubled. Anybody in this culture who watches the news and can be happy – there’s something wrong with them.

grumps on stumps

April, 2010, New York Times survey of Tea Party supporters found that they skew toward male, white, and old.  They live the legal, political, and moral authority of a patriarch. They demand to have their “country back.”

The tea party movement represents resistance to and resentment over waning power in rural America.

Obama is a symbol of a shift toward urban interests. Rural America senses that he represents a major shift in the political landscape, one that will no longer put the white male ‘farmer’ at the center of the American political landscape. Even though the majority of the population moved to cities long ago, the rural myth persisted in American politics. The small town values that politicians pay so much attention to is a reflection of this, and Obama is a signal that the special place rural America holds in American politics is coming to an end.

pragmatism is better

Politics as religion sucks.

Our greatest leaders have always used the argument of better angels to move us toward pragmatism, toward principles over ideology… Lincoln did that. Roosevelt did that. Obama does that.

bottles with toxins

NYTimes: Half of the nation’s adult population takes vitamin supplements regularly – vast majority from overseas suppliers – and about a quarter take herbal supplements at least occasionally. Annual sales are about $25 billion a year. Don’t blame that on government. Nearly all of the vitamin C and many other supplements consumed in the United States are made from ingredients made in Chinese plants. Those plants are almost never inspected by the FDA.

teaching gaping holes

Slavery in Texas textbooks is now taught as triangular trade.
Brochure Civil War with Lincoln’s treachery on the side.
Thomas Jefferson’s church-state separation is deleted.
No Cesar Chavez. No Malcolm X. Wait, there’s less in the curricula than you can imagine: Hip-Hop will get no mention.

meager is potent

Pandering hurts. Pandering merely for large corporations is greedy and silly. Outrageous pandering we can call stupid, we can laugh, we can throw the man out.

Sen. Lindsey Graham said last night that the climate bill he helped author does not allow enough new drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, and that’s why he won’t support it.

“You’ll never get my vote,” he said, without more allowances for fossil fuel extraction.

finger in the spill

Stephen Baldwin:

People seem surprised that no leviathan Dutch boy has magically appeared to plug his cork-like finger into the torrential oil leak currently greasing-up the Gulf of Mexico.

Some commentators are even calling this viscous catastrophe a mere “spill,” as if British Petroleum had accidentally knocked a cup of hot tea over Louisiana’s lap, rather than incontinently urinating their horrible product into the state’s helpless face, as seems to be the case. “Why don’t they hurry up and do something?” is a common response to the ongoing and so far unfixable crisis. Apparently we believe there is no man-made problem that cannot be fixed by the indefatigable efforts of previously anonymous federal agencies armed with sacks of cash.

No matter how much we criticize our government and their industrial allies, most of us expect it to do the right thing in the end and save the day, like one of those drunk sheriffs in old westerns who finally pull themselves together, shave, and stride purposefully out of the saloon to deal with Dodge’s bandito nemesis.

Of course, that only happens in the movies, but then this is America.

foolin’ all the people

Laying booms out in a string always fails and everybody knows it. Most oil riggers and all Coast Guard must attend cleanup boom school. BP is stringing out boom merely for the cameras. Oil spill containment booms must be configured like this:

After examining 100s of pages of regulation-required BP Response Plans, it’s clear no one reads them. The BP ‘plan’ for a major oilspill is joke.  Walruses are listed in the Gulf’s ‘Sensitive Biological Resources’.  One of their primary equipment providers for rapid deployment of spill response resources on a 24 hour, 7 days a week basis is a Japanese home shopping site!

A clear minded tho’ vulgar boom school is here. You’ll be stunned.

high birth

Cocaine slows fetal growth.
Yes, babies are smaller with smaller heads.
But as these children grow, brain and body size catch up.

Many crack babies have done alright.
Prison policies not so much.

how easy is it?

Who funds rage?

Obama plans to raise tax rates on upper brackets. Merely to Clinton levels. Health reform will in part be paid for with surtaxes on high-income individuals.

This and more will amount to a significant financial hit to CEOs, investment bankers and other masters of the universe.

Oh woe.

Don’t cry for these people. They are doing extremely well, contributing little more to our country than they did in the 1990s.

Tax increases they’re facing are reasonable, but that doesn’t stop them from being very, very angry. Rage against regulation seems bizarre, but what did they expect?

build our nation

“The primary cause of blowouts, spills and uncontrolled releases of gases from offshore operations is drilling into methane hydrates, or through them into free gas trapped below.”

Who said that? You don’t know?

In September 2009, an environmental investigator submitted a 60-page report on the risks of deepwater drilling as a public comment to the federal government’s proposed rule for oil and gas leasing between 2010 and 2015 on the outer continental shelf.