29 April 2010


Gulf of Mexico oil well explosion and spill. In a recent post I called into question the Administration's proposal for including expanded off-shore oil drilling in its energy plan. At the time of the post, analysis indicated a flow of 1000 barrels of crude oil per day from the well head of an explosion on an oil rig owned by British Petroleum. That estimate today was increased to 5000 barrels per day. It was further revealed that the Coast Guard's plan to burn off the oil slick before it reached shore would be minimally effective, eliminating something like 3 percent of the slick. Since there are insufficient floating oil containment booms to control the oil slick (now over 600 miles in circumference), it appears that the oil will indeed be carried onshore, contaminating wildlife, natural habitat, barrier islands, the fishery industry and human habitat as well. There is no end in sight. Oh yeah, and the feds are saying that it is up to state agencies to take proactive measures to protect wildlife. Now, can someone offer reassurances that MORE offshore oil wells are a good idea?

"Show me your papers" law. As it happens, in that same post I commented upon the state of Arizona's new law requiring anyone suspected of being an illegal immigrant to produce documentation on demand by law enforcement officers. The inherent racism in this law is blatant (since the only possible cue for probable cause is a suspect's (or victim's) skin color). The state's usurping of Federal powers is similarly dazzling, so much so that Jon Stewart called Arizona "the meth lab of democracy," as cited by Timothy Egan in his NYTimes article Desert Derangement Syndrome. All of which is a real shame, since Arizona is home to many sane, clear-thinking residents, not to mention some of the most spectacular landscapes in the world. But then, my twenty years there were spent in and around Tucson, a liberal enclave in an otherwise mostly-conservative state. Time to move the state capitol from Phoenix to Tucson, methinks.

Oceanic wind farm. After a years-long debate, the federal government has approved a permit for a 130-turbine wind farm in the waters off the coast of Cape Cod, within sight of Hyannis. I am torn on this issue. Clearly wind power must be part of our future energy budget. It is clean, renewable, and increasingly efficient. Yet I completely understand the objections of those who have enjoyed unobstructed ocean views for years, and those who take pleasure in sailing the waters soon to be populated by 150-foot tall wind mills. There is also some concern for the effect of those giant swooping blades on the mortality of migrating birds. No easy answers, but on balance I tentatively have to side with the wind farm proponents, pending further developments.

Hair. Finally, whimsically, the "American Tribal Love-Rock Musical" Hair debuted on Broadway 42 years ago. I'm not a huge fan of musicals, but Hair ranks among my favorites, for its compelling score, insoucient attitude, portrayal of human innocence and pathos and transcendance, and the final tragic loss of life to the machine of war. I'm one of that fortunate generation which lived, celebrated, protested, got high, and was part of an entire counterculture which, in the end, was a decisive force in ending the Vietnam War and bringing down one of our country's two most evil Presidents. Let the sunshine in !!

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