Sunday, August 31, 2008

Cut off/ Evacuated

More than 75% of Gulf oil cut off as energy companies evacuate because of Gustav

Associated Press - August 30, 2008 3:54 PM ET

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - More than three-quarters of the Gulf of Mexico's offshore oil production had been cut off.

Energy companies have evacuated petroleum platforms in the face of Hurricane Gustav.

The federal Minerals Management Service says the platform shutdowns also cut off 37% of the Gulf's daily production of natural gas. The agency says 717 staffed production platforms and 121 drilling rigs are currently operating in the Gulf.

About 35,000 people work in the Gulf, staffing offshore rigs and production facilities.

Forecasters say Hurricane Gustav could reach the Gulf Coast early Tuesday.

May the people of New Orleans be safe.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Transcripts Etc...

The Transcript:

She knows where she comes from, and she knows who she works for. She stands up for what's right, and she doesn't let anyone tell her to sit down.


She's fought oil companies and party bosses and do-nothing bureaucrats and anyone who puts their interests before the interests of the people she swore an oath to serve.

She's exactly who I need. She's exactly who this country needs to help me fight...


... to help me fight the same old Washington politics of me first and country second.

My friends and fellow Americans...


MCCAIN: I am very pleased and very privileged to introduce to you the next vice president of the United States...


... Governor Sarah Palin of the great state of Alaska.

By Matt Daily
NEW YORK, Aug 29 (Reuters) - Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin is seen as a strong advocate for opening new areas to oil drilling, including the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, but has taken a hard line in negotiations with oil companies and raised taxes on the state's energy producers.

By Telis Demos, writer-reporter

August 29, 2008: 8:02 PM EDT

(Fortune) -- Within hours of Senator John McCain picking Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as his running mate, the talking heads of CNBC had coined a new term: "Palinomics." In a nutshell, the doctrine stands for expanding the search for domestic oil and gas as a solution to the energy crisis.


Once in office, Palin took an aggressive stance toward the oil companies. Her nickname from high-school basketball, "Sarah Barracuda," was resurrected in the press. Early in her term, she shocked oil lobbyists when she was so bold as to not show up when Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson came to Juneau to meet with her. Palin, after scrapping Murkowski's deal, would not give Big Oil the terms they wanted, yet insisted that the companies still had an obligation under their lease to deliver gas to whatever pipeline Alaska built. She invited the oil companies to place open bids to build a pipeline, but they refused. A bid by TransCanada, North America's largest pipeline builder, was approved by the legislature in August.

Palin also raised taxes on oil companies after Murkowski's previous tax regime produced falling revenues in 2007, despite skyrocketing oil prices. Alaska now has some of the highest resource taxes in the world. Alaska's oil tax revenues are expected to be about $10 billion in 2008, twice those of previous year. BP says about half its oil revenues now go to taxes, when royalty payments to the state are included. Earlier this week, Palin approved gas tax relief for Alaskans, and paid every resident $1,200 to help ease their fuel-price burden.

To be sure, it would be an overstatement to brand Palin as an enemy of Big Oil. Her husband works as a production supervisor for BP. And her support for drilling in the Alaska Natural Wildlife Reserve, as well as exploiting Alaska's natural gas resources, certainly won't endear her to environmentalists. "Personally, I have respect for the industry," she said in an interview with Fortune last year, "for the contributions it's made to our state ... and great respect for what their CEOs are doing. We know their mission, to take as much as possible and leave as little behind."

Bay News 9 on-line

Palin served as chairwoman of the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, two terms as mayor of Wasilla and two terms on the city council.

Palin started Alaska's Petroleum Systems Integrity Office -- an oversight and maintenance agency for the state's oil and gas equipment, facilities and infrastructure. She created the Climate Change Subcabinet that would forge a climate change strategy.

At present, Palin chairs the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission.

Palin is married to Todd Palin, a lifelong resident of the state and an oil production operator on Alaska's North Slope.

Friday, August 29, 2008



We will do this. Washington -- Washington has been talking about our oil addiction for the last 30 years. And, by the way, John McCain has been there for 26 of them.


And in that time, he has said no to higher fuel-efficiency standards for cars, no to investments in renewable energy, no to renewable fuels. And today, we import triple the amount of oil than we had on the day that Senator McCain took office.

Now is the time to end this addiction and to understand that drilling is a stop-gap measure, not a long-term solution, not even close.


As president, as president, I will tap our natural gas reserves, invest in clean coal technology, and find ways to safely harness nuclear power. I'll help our auto companies re-tool, so that the fuel-efficient cars of the future are built right here in America.


I'll make it easier for the American people to afford these new cars. And I'll invest $150 billion over the next decade in affordable, renewable sources of energy -- wind power, and solar power and the next generation of biofuels -- an investment that will lead to new industries and 5 million new jobs that pay well and can't be outsourced.

The full transcript is available at The NYTimes on-line.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Human Rights

Today -- By Cary O'Reilly

"Aug. 27 (Bloomberg) -- Exxon Mobil Corp., the world's biggest oil company, must face a lawsuit by villagers in Indonesia who say the company contributed to human-rights abuses by government security forces."

The suit was brought in 2001 -- apparently Exxon Mobil (first Mobil) hires local military to guard a plant.

This from the NYTimes in 2001 --

Published: June 21, 2001

"Over the years, the Indonesian military gained a widely acknowledged reputation for brutality as it suppressed rebellions in its vast archipelago. And the accusations against it in the Exxon Mobil case, like the use of torture and murder, have long been in the public realm. The suit contends that Exxon Mobil looked the other way as the military terrorized Acehnese villagers. Furthermore, it accuses the company of giving the military space and equipment for its anti-insurgency campaign."

I think it's interesting -- before I went on vacation I was getting really really careful -- about driving about the way that I felt about driving and plastic everything...
When I stopped working on this for a week I started to lighten up -- a human right -- but in the course I started driving more -- eased my concentration -- I suppose that's what relaxing is -- easing concentration. There are so many things to think about...

"Mr. Collingsworth said a victory in the case and the financial damages the plaintiffs seek would push Exxon Mobil and its shareholders to press the Indonesians to refrain from human rights abuses.

''We're hoping we can get Exxon Mobil to integrate human rights concerns into their very public concerns of their own security,'' he said. ''And we're seeking financial damages not just to help victims but also so that companies that do this kind of thing are punished in the marketplace.''"

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

History Lesson

Just a bit of good news this morning from the Brooklyn Eagle (I think I saw it in the Times yesterday too) --

BROOKLYN -- The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has committed to a new series of tests at Newtown Creek, considered one of the most polluted waterways on the East Coast, taking any additional necessary samples at four priority sites.

If the data demonstrates high levels of toxic chemicals, the entire Newtown Creek area could be designated a federal Superfund site and may be eligible for federal funding of up to 90 percent of the cleanup costs.

Of course the question then becomes why should the government pay for what the oil companies should pay for (I believe at least a bunch of this issue lies with Exxon) -- but then the government goes after the companies in court.

It's such a strange thing -- this project, this spill in Greenpoint --
I have a friend who smokes cigarettes -- she's part French -- she doesn't really believe it's such a bad thing. She spends hours worrying about what she should tell her kids when they ask if she's going to die. She gets very hung up on the feeling that smokers have it really tough in this day and age in America --

I'm the wrong person to talk to -- though she persists. When my grandfather was dying of lung cancer in the little Brookly apartment, the dining room was a make shift ward and green puss was bubbling up through the bandage.

So my arguments against smoking are more compelling than most. Dying from smoking simply is part of my history.

But now I'm sure that the spill had something to do with it. They smoked -- they smoked a lot (both of my grandparents died of lung cancer) -- but so did their friends... I'm just sure it must be connected.

So history changes -- my family history. And not small memories or perspective shift -- real huge history and the way that I feel about things. That's a very strange thing.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

One or Two Things...

Today from Reuters:

"Twelve states, including New York, are suing the Environmental Protection Agency over greenhouse gas emissions from oil refineries."

This is certainly one of those stories that makes you wonder about what is actually going on in this country...

"The suit, filed in the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, said about 15 percent of industrial emissions of carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas, came from the refineries."

This from the EPA mission statement:
"EPA's mission is to protect human health and to safeguard the natural environment—air, water, and land—upon which life depends. For more than 30 years, the EPA has been working for a cleaner, healthier environment for the American people."

Turns out Massachusetts, my state, is one of the states involved in the suit.

I'm always intrigued when I find gaps in information... I found some sort of site I haven't spent too much time on called "Refinery Reform Campaign." It's strange, though, they have a pull down map of American refineries and Massachusetts is not on the list. Seemed strange that Massachusetts would be part of the suit if there weren't any refineries here... for a minute I was even more impressed with Ted Kennedy than usual...

So I started looking around...

Turns out there's an oil refinery right around the corner -- right near the closest zoo and the 2500 acre park we went to for Mother's Day with the kids and grandmothers...

Leaves of Northern Red Oak

Turns out, too, there was an oil refinery fire in 1915 here -- this has nothing much to do with anything except I suppose to say we have had refineries for a long time here -- and to say $25,000 doesn't buy what it used to...

Oil Refinery Burns

During the rush hours of the morning yesterday the refinery of the Indian Oil Company, at 35 Central wharf, Boston, caught fire. The interior of the building was destroyed, the damage being set at $25,000. Three alarms were ordered and all of the intown fire-fighting apparatus was used to drown out the flames. Immense clouds of heavy oil smoke made the fire a most difficult one to fight, and the firemen were constantly pushed back until they were forced to man their streams of water from neighboring roofs.

The fire started in the basement of the building, shot up through the elevator shaft and mushroomed through the three floors. Other buildings in the vicinity were threatened and the Portland and Gloucester steamships at the piers nearby, were made ready to be pulled out into the stream.

Boston Morning Journal, Boston, MA 2 Mar 1915

I don't know -- someone asked me to explain myself the other day -- explain this project -- maybe it's part art project part environmental project part communications project... I love the way all this stuff comes.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Cleaning Can Be Dangerous Too

Celeste also grew up in Venezuela and Puerto Rico-- also had ties to the industry. She told me about the oil spill at a beach she used to go to growing up -- Ponce Tuque.

"My cousin came to visit around holy week -- April -- 1979 -- they wanted to go to that beach -- so I took them. When they came out they had all these little black dots all over them."

They used a dilute of Kerosene to clean themselves. Kerosene is a petroleum product as well.

Cleaning can be dangerous too...

This from OSHA:


Potential symptoms: Eye, skin, nose, throat irritation; cough, burning sensation in chest; headache; nausea, lassitude, restlessness; poor coordination, confusion, drowsiness, unconsciousness; dermatitis; vomiting, diarrhea; chemical pneumonitis, fire eater's pneumonia (from aspiration).

Health Effects: Irritation-Eyes, Nose, Throat, Skin---Mild (HE16); CNS effects (HE7); Flammable (HE18).

Affected organs: CNS, eyes, skin, respiratory system.

This from Wikipedia:

The Amish, who limit use of electric appliances for religious reasons, rely on kerosene for lighting and often purchase kerosene-powered versions of appliances such as refrigerators.


At one time the fuel was widely used in kerosene lamps and lanterns. While replacing whale oil, it was considered as 'explosive as gunpowder.' In 1880 39% of NYC fires were caused by defective kerosene lamps.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

My Refinery

Well, I did it. I actually went on vacation. Oil came with me... though I have to say I thought I would be more structured about it -- I did talk and learn about oil every day -- but I wasn't structured. I really needed a vacation.

On Lake George, at the dock gas station, gas is $5.00/gallon -- and it is the place to be. Lesley had a bad night the day we were there. It had to do with John and Jason, I think. It costs $100 to fill up a small motor boat -- the you can drive around in circles with a 20 year old cousin mocking you about 80s music...

Last week I was in a writing workshop -- and it was really interesting to me to see the number of people involved with oil. One friend, it turns out, translates oil documents from French and Spanish. He promised to share some.

In the same small workshop there were two women who had grown up with families in the oil business. Life is very strange. I did a few interviews, but I think that I want to intersperse them as I go back to business as usual.

Memory and history are very funny things -- not fixed at all, I think.

Lorna said that in the daytime "my refinery" looked like any old industrial site -- metal and cement -- with a smell that made her have to hold her nose as they drove through.

But at night the white lights seemed to float in the sky -- alien and beautiful and frightening.

"It created in me a thrilled terrible feeling that I was approaching an alien landscape."

Not fixed at all and filled with all the different visions and experiences of time and perspective at once...

Friday, August 15, 2008

All I Ever Wanted


Will keep going, unplugged. Will update soon.

A Thousand Words

By Jahi Chikwendiu
The Washington Post

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Of Mention

This from the Evansville Courier Press

"Workers cleaning up Illinois oil spill; crude valued around $525,000

By Len Wells
Originally published 12:00 a.m., August 12, 2008
Updated 08:45 p.m., August 11, 2008

Several private contractors from around the Tri-State have joined Marathon Oil Co. in efforts to contain and clean up a massive crude oil spill from a pipeline break in eastern Wayne County, Ill., on Sunday morning.

An estimated 5,000 barrels of crude oil — 210,000 gallons — spilled onto William Rickett's farm from a 20-inch transmission line that runs from a tank farm from Patoka, Ill., northwest of Salem, Ill., to Owensboro, Ky. The site is so remote that contractors had to build a nearly two-mile-long gravel road from the closest township road to access it.

The new road will allow oil field vacuum trucks to drive directly to the spill site to suction up oil that has been contained by emergency crews.

At the current value of locally produced oil, the spilled crude has a value of more than $525,000."

I've haven't seen this before -- I've seen estimated price of clean up, but not the value of the wasted...
People's capacity to devalue the human effect of situations never ceases to baffle me. And I suppose, too, that maybe the numbers are so high people will think more seriously about spills -- if only for the money.

From China

QUITO, Aug. 13 (Xinhua) -- At least 10,000 gallons (37,854 liters) of petroleum residues were spilled into a river in Ecuadoralong the border with Colombia, local media reported Wednesday

The accident occurred when a tanker traveling from the industrial region of Shushufindi to the Ecuadoran capital Quito tipped over in the Aguarico river, local TV Ecuavisa reported.

The crude spilled over an area of 800 square meters contaminating both the water and the tideland along the river. The possible consequences for the communities living in the area were not mentioned.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

In the Pipelines...

LONDON (AP) — BP PLC said it shut down an oil pipeline that runs through Georgia on Tuesday as a precautionary measure, but added that it is unaware of any Russian bombings on pipelines in the region.

BP said the 90,000-barrel-a-day pipeline to Supsa on Georgia's Black Sea coast from Baku in Azerbaijan will remain closed indefinitely."

A few days ago I mentioned the pipeline running through Georgia. I said, "wars break out near oil, wars break out other places too" -- or something like that.

Honestly, at the time, I thought it was coincidence. The pipelines were not mentioned in the first reports that I remember -- I sort of thought it was a case of -- look closely anywhere and you will find oil.

It seems different today. Here's an excerpt from an editorial in the Washington Post by Steven Pearlstein. It's a great column, with a lengthy and interesting, if rather opinionated history of the pipeline.

"Putin understands better than anyone that oil and gas are the source of Russia's resurgence as a military and economic power and his own control over the Russian government and key sectors of its economy. It is oil and gas that provide the money to maintain Russia's powerful military, along with a vast internal security apparatus and network of government-controlled enterprises that allow the president-turned-premier to maintain his iron grip on the levers of political and economic power.

A little pipeline history: It was just as Putin was coming to power in 1999 that an agreement was reached to create the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) pipeline. The project would allow Azerbaijan and its production partner, BP, to bypass Russia and transport their newly drilled oil instead through Georgia and Turkey to a port in the eastern Mediterranean."

I think it's interesting to note that the dollar, which was rising slightly on news of oil dropping, dropped on news of its rising after the bombing...

Meanwhile, here's the last paragraph in the Wall Street Journal's Market Watch story about the ceasefire:

"The United Nations refugee agency, UNHCR, estimated that some 100,000 people have been uprooted by the conflict in South Ossetia and Georgia. The agency's first airlift arrived in Georgia Tuesday morning with 34 tons of emergency aid for people affected by the fighting."

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

This is It

This week -- in oil and life -- I am interested in seeing things the way they really are.

I came to two photographs this morning -- both filled in pieces of stories I've thought a lot about over the last few months. Visual pieces. This is what it looks like. Oil. Big guns. See.
I didn't know what it looked like.

Militants from the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) patrol the creeks of Bonny river near the LNG plant in the oil rich Niger delta region of Southern Nigeria

Militants from the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) patrol the creeks of Bonny river near the LNG plant in the oil rich Niger delta region of Southern Nigeria
The Independent

And this one from The Huffington Post

19 years after the Exxon Valdez spill, toxic oil still lies buried on Smith Island--and other islands--in Prince William Sound. Only 9 of 24 injured species and habitats have fully recovered, according to government scientists. Photo by Dave Janka, July 1, 2008.

Monday, August 11, 2008

A Struggle for Self Retrieval

Two days ago, a poet friend posted a link to the Penn American Center.

There on the top was a Nigerian writer, Chinua Achebe -- his pictures, his words, his voice.

The internet is an amazing thing.

Here's a link to a reading of Things Fall Apart, with a bit of Q&A after.

I transcribed a bit of it this morning:

Is there a connection between all will be well and there is no one for whom it is well --
the answer is yes there is a connection;
they are two perspectives on the human condition.
One is a prayer – the other an instructional manual -- one calls on and activates your faith the other your reasoning faculty the human mind accommodates the practice of faith and the application of reason.
Faith and reason need not be at war.
But they can be when we let it out an overrunned jurisdiction of the other.
When faith runs amok and overruns reason we call it, quite appropriately, superstition.
When it is reason that offends we call it hapless unfeeling.
Too much of anything – even a good thing – is, to say the least, unhelpful.
A conqueror’s old uncle chose to reason with him – to point to what was around him rather than turn to superstition and faith. look around you, he said to his suffering nation – ask my daughter Quinny about the twins she bore and threw away – he did not choose to say let us pray – he chose demonstrable evidence. I hope I will not be spoiling the story for you if I tell you the old man’s brilliant efforts did not save our conqueror in the end – but it may have helped a whole community – indeed a whole continent begin a struggle in self retrieval which is still going on today.

Reuters UK, UK - 18 hours ago
ABUJA, Aug 10 (Reuters) - Nigeria's main militant group repeated its warning on Sunday that it will target foreign workers with the country's biggest construction firm if it does not halt operations in the capital Abuja in the next 24 hours.

The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), which launched a campaign of violence against the oil sector in early 2006, first issued the threat against Julius Berger JUBR.LG last Monday to pressure the firm to resume work in the delta.

The Nigerian unit of German builder Bilfinger Berger halted work last month in the oil-rich delta after two German employees were kidnapped.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Pet Names

This from a story in the Oil Marketer last year:

BHP Billiton today announced first oil production from the Genghis Khan development, located in the deepwater Gulf of Mexico, approximately 120 miles (192 kilometres) off the coast of Louisiana. The Company, with co-venturers Hess and Repsol YPF, acquired its interest in Genghis Khan in February 2007 for US$1.33 billion ($583 million net to BHP Billiton).

Oil production begins at Genghis Khan Field

I did not know oil rigs had pet names.
Genghis Khan??? Really???

People never cease to amaze.

It's a great movie -- Mongol -- by the way. It's a love story -- bloody. Really bloody.

Chronically Vulnerable

Right now, I am eating a piece of amazing bread. It's the kind of bread that tastes like someone is taking care of you somewhere...

My friend Elisa made this bread -- sent it home with me after a wonderful night of discussion and soup. Elisa works for Care International. She travels all over the world as an activist. I've written about her before -- but I've never tasted her bread.

I had her in mind when I set off to write this morning.
First I read about the Russian bombings on the front page, then I went on to begin my search.
Somehow, it seems, the story always relates.

"The escalation risked igniting a renewed and sustained conflict in the Caucasus region, an important conduit for the flow of oil from the Caspian Sea to world markets and an area where conflict has flared for years along Russia’s borders, most recently in Chechnya."

The truth is, I asked Elisa what I could possibly give her in response for the night, the meal, the conversation -- sangria and laughter and polenta.

"I want a blog in my honor." She was teasing, of course.
This blog is in honor of her -- of course.

Elisa and I, we are always searching for the core of things -- talking about what is really at stake, and where we can look for hope and when we can look for hope and whether or not there is ever hope for us.

But at some point, I suppose, everything is connected. It just is. War breaks out around oil. War breaks out other places too. The war in Georgia could further effect the instability of the current oil market -- 1,500 people died last night.

The price of oil -- the price of food -- there are crisis' in the world. There always are.

"People blame locusts, drought and high food prices for the crisis that affected more than 3 million people in Niger in 2005," says Vanessa Rubin, Africa Hunger Advisor for CARE International UK, and author of a briefing paper that accompanies the report. "But these were just triggers. The real cause of the problem was that people there are chronically vulnerable. Two years later, they still are."

Thank you for the bread, my sweet friend.

Friday, August 8, 2008

They Used to Say

“What you think you can’t live with today, tomorrow can become just a memory,”
said [Eric Jay Dolin, who wrote some of the text for the exhibit and is the author of “Leviathan: The History of Whaling in America.”].
“That’s what happened with whale oil, and eventually it’s going to happen to oil, but you don’t just turn off one switch and flip on a new one. It’s the product of a long, wrenching process that I hope leads us to a more sustainable path than the one we’re on now.”


“Great noise is made by many of the newspapers and thousands of the traders in the country about lard oil, chemical oil, camphene oil, and a half-dozen other luminous humbugs,” The Nantucket Inquirer snorted derisively in 1843. It went on: “But let not our envious and — in view of the lard oil mania — we had well nigh said, hog-gish opponents, indulge themselves in any such dreams.”

Published: August 3, 2008
They Used to Say Whale Oil Was Indispensable, Too

Thursday, August 7, 2008

How We Travel...

From Another Sky

by Pierre Reverdy

What shall become of me
I feel myself dying
Help me
Ah Paris...the Pont Neuf
I know this town
Brief pleasures
Brief sorrows
My life
Is it really worth mentioning
Anyone could say the same
And how else to pass the time
I dream of another landscape
A forgotten friend reveals his features
Region of shadows
And pale skies
Native country that returns to me every morning
The journey was a long one
I lost some feathers on the way
And my illusions fell one by one
Still I was then in the midst of springtime
Hardly more than a child
I kept moving on
A clamorous train conveyed me
Little by little I forgot nature
Then the railway station was upon us
We changed cars
And on the station platform no one was waiting
The skeletal dead city
Raises its blast furnaces over there
What shall become of me
Some one touches my forehead with a
fantastic shadow
A hand
But what I thought I saw is only train smoke
I am alone
Yes all alone

No one has come to take my hand

Paul Reverdy, “From Another Sky” from Reverdy (Santa Barbara: Unicorn Press, 1968). �© 1967, Unicorn Press, Inc.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Striking a Deal with the Daylight

Today I'm going to interview a poet. One of my favorites, as it would happen.
Interestingly, in doing the work for the piece I came across a website: Poets Against the War.
I don't know if I trust the website -- I don't have time to really go into it deeply -- it feels like it could be not trustworthy --
but I trust a lot of the poets on the site -- love and trust their work.

Afterward, We May Want to Know What Happened

Amazing. We're all still here,
and everybody's talking at once.
But each moment works against us—we can't
hear everything—and gets us through the hour
in buses and taxis, airplanes
carving the sky, the slow shade of a cloud
that creeps through an open market with promises of
nighttime striking a deal with the daylight.

No. We can't see everything,
but when did looking convince us?
Now we don't want these flowers,
and we curse the vendor for showing them.
It's all regret, the fish on the ice,
the baskets of potatoes and green beans, all
regret, until regret too

is demolished. From the dust and rabble
steel skeletons stand in the grandeur of distance
and glass skin. And today, again,
we've hurried to Century City, but we arrive
forever early, unable to live up to our destination—
neither shades nor galoshes, but
the myth of afternoon.

Perhaps that's enough. Perhaps
it's all true. These designs of ourselves, and the wind,
somewhere else. Among corporate towers
and modular dunes, among vacant, dazzling plazas
we're all just here, and each voice
is a tiny fissure in the earth's veneer.
And each voice calls to us, calls in the spirit of
a beggar with something to give.

from Anxious Latitude

-- Ralph Angel

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

One Thing

Campaign Money Watch, a watchdog organization, said the McCain campaign received a burst of donations in June from oil company employees after he came out in favor of offshore drilling. Together, Hess employees or their relatives contributed more than $300,000 in June...

From the NYTimes this morning.

Monday, August 4, 2008


I wrote a few days ago about the soldiers -- I'd been lucky enough to read some beautiful poems from a soldier...
Last night I got a note -- I wanted to print part of it today.

... our soldiers ... understanding of the human side of our work. We are fathers, mothers, husbands, wives, sons, and daughters committed to doing our job; right or wrong. Survival overseas, in that environment, has nothing to do with our personal politics or the struggle for energy sources which date back many, many years. It is simply human beings protecting each other, with the hopes of returning home safely...

Robert Capa 1938

May you be safe.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Its Muddy Bosom 2

Today the news was released that the tugboat -- the one that collided with the tanker in the Mississippi river, was warned repeatedly before the accident.

"No one responded, according to radio transmissions released on Saturday by the Coast Guard."

Furthermore, "the person operating the Mel Oliver had an apprentice mate’s license and that no one aboard had the proper documentation to guide it." Problems are often revealed about captains after big accidents -- but this is different... my mother used to say, it's not just you, it's everyone else on the road... or river, as the case may be. Would you trust everyone driving anything on the Mississippi river today with the care and safeguard of an enormous cargo of oil...

A few days ago I was reading about how more oil was leaking from the tanker, which is now at the bottom of the re-opened waterway.

"More than 400,000 gallons of oil has been spilled. Yesterday, crews had cleared nearly 85,000 gallons worth. Crews have been on the scene vacuuming an oil and water mixture. Ship traffic is still moving despite the latest leak." This was from a report by Erin Jones on

Accidents are so often preventable. Big accidents take on a richer tone of regret for stupidity somehow... 400,000 gallons of oil. And they are just driving over it, pushing it down and down and through. I suppose it's technology that allows us to replay each moment when people look in awe and fear and say -- here it comes...

by William Keys

The Mississippi is the second longest river in the United States -- twisting from Minnesota to Mexico. People playing all along the 2,000 some miles of banks this mid-summer... and New Orleans -- the site of the spill -- geez you'd think they've had enough.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Road Going Chapel

There are a lot of things I would write about today. I always wonder what percentage of that is the news and what percentage of that is my own state of mind... maybe it's split in half... anyway, everything was derailed when I saw the following image:

Photo from The Henry For Museum printed in the NYTimes

This photo feels very important to me -- in the history of oil -- in the history of transportation -- as a metaphor for the world we entered into with the invention of the car -- as a symbol of where we are now...

Friday, August 1, 2008


Published: August 1, 2008

HOUSTON — Exxon Mobil reported the best quarterly profit ever for a corporation on Thursday, beating its own record, but investors sold off shares as oil and natural gas prices resumed their recent decline.

Ever for a corporation.
It must have been fun to write that line -- he's probably been working on the story for a while, just waiting for the reports.
Ever for a corporation.

Sometimes things are exactly what they seem.

Oil prices are up 91% from the same quarter last year.
At the same time, supply is down 10% from the same quarter last year, the article reports.

Listen to this paragraph--
Exxon’s profits were nearly $90,000 a minute over the quarter, but it was less than Wall Street had expected. Exxon’s shares fell 4.6 percent, to close at $80.43.

Doesn't it just all sound crazy? Like the things going on are too dramatic to be anything but a Saturday Night Live skit?