Tuesday, September 30, 2008

California Dreaming

I don't know...
if we do things in name only
if we protect our future mistakes
if we aren't ready to tackle the meat of the issue...

It's new years day in the Jewish tradition.
In the Jewish tradition we celebrate and then we repent...

I dropped a whole big glass container of honey at Whole Foods yesterday. Seemed somehow a sign of the year passing and yet to come.

Gov. Schwarzenegger vetoes oil spill bills, signs others
By Edwin Garcia and Paul Rogers

Mercury News Sacramento Bureau


Schwarzenegger signed seven bills Monday in response to the November mishap when a Chinese cargo ship, the Cosco Busan, struck a support of the Bay Bridge and dumped more than 50,000 gallons of bunker fuel into San Francisco Bay.

Those measures will expand training for emergency responders, strengthen enforcement penalties and quickly assess public health hazards. Volunteering to help clean birds and shorelines after the next oil spill also will be easier.

But the governor disappointed environmentalists by killing of the three most far-reaching measures.

"He gave us the gravy but not the meat," said Warner Chabot, vice president of the Ocean

Conservancy, an environmental group in San Francisco. "Sadly the governor vetoed the stronger bills."

Specifically, Schwarzenegger rejected SB 1056, by Sen. Carole Migden, D-San Francisco, which would have required cleanup crews hired by shipping companies to respond to spills in San Francisco Bay within two hours, instead of six, as the law now requires. In his veto message, Schwarzenegger said the faster time was a "meritorious goal," but one that could present safety risks during bad weather.

He also vetoed AB 2032, by Assemblywoman Loni Hancock, D-El Cerrito, which would have allowed the state to increase the fee it charges oil companies from 5 cents a barrel to 8 cents a barrel on oil brought into California ports, raising $19 million in new funding for state oil spill response. In the veto message, Schwarzenegger said the fee was increased in 2002 and that the state "is currently using those increased funds to implement a number of strategies to improve preparedness and operations that will not result in costs above what is included in the 2008 Budget Bill."

Finally, he vetoed AB 2547, by Assemblyman Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, which would have provided $1 million a year in new money from the state in grants to companies that develop more effective oil spill cleanup technology. Schwarzenegger called the program "unnecessary" because the state already works with the Coast Guard and other agencies to identify new technologies.


I wonder if he's preparing for off-shore drilling.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Bit O' Debate

OBAMA: Look, it's just not true. And if we want to talk about oil company profits, under your tax plan, John -- this is undeniable -- oil companies would get an additional $4 billion in tax breaks.

Now, look, we all would love to lower taxes on everybody. But here's the problem: If we are giving them to oil companies, then that means that there are those who are not going to be getting them. And...


OBAMA: No, but, John, the fact of the matter is, is that I was opposed to those tax breaks, tried to strip them out. We've got an emergency bill on the Senate floor right now that contains some good stuff, some stuff you want, including drilling off-shore, but you're opposed to it because it would strip away those tax breaks that have gone to oil companies.


OBAMA: Well, there are a range of things that are probably going to have to be delayed. We don't yet know what our tax revenues are going to be. The economy is slowing down, so it's hard to anticipate right now what the budget is going to look like next year.

But there's no doubt that we're not going to be able to do everything that I think needs to be done. There are some things that I think have to be done. We have to have energy independence, so I've put forward a plan to make sure that, in 10 years' time, we have freed ourselves from dependence on Middle Eastern oil by increasing production at home, but most importantly by starting to invest in alternative energy (OOTC:AEGC) , solar, wind, biodiesel, making sure that we're developing the fuel-efficient cars of the future right here in the United States, in Ohio and Michigan, instead of Japan and South Korea.

We have to fix our health care system, which is putting an enormous burden on families. Just -- a report just came out that the average deductible went up 30 percent on American families.

They are getting crushed, and many of them are going bankrupt as a consequence of health care. I'm meeting folks all over the country. We have to do that now, because it will actually make our businesses and our families better off.

The third thing we have to do is we've got to make sure that we're competing in education. We've got to invest in science and technology. China had a space launch and a space walk. We've got to make sure that our children are keeping pace in math and in science.

And one of the things I think we have to do is make sure that college is affordable for every young person in America.

And I also think that we're going to have to rebuild our infrastructure, which is falling behind, our roads, our bridges, but also broadband lines that reach into rural communities.

Also, making sure that we have a new electricity grid to get the alternative energy to population centers that are using them.

So there are some -- some things that we've got to do structurally to make sure that we can compete in this global economy. We can't shortchange those things. We've got to eliminate programs that don't work, and we've got to make sure that the programs that we do have are more efficient and cost less.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Paul Newman RIP

From The New York Times:

You see the dangerous side of his beauty in “Hud,” Martin Ritt’s irresistible if disingenuous 1963 drama about a Texas ranching family in which Mr. Newman plays the womanizing son of a cattleman (the Hollywood veteran Melvyn Douglas), who’s hanging onto a fast-fading way of life. The movie traffics in piety: the father refuses to dig for the oil that might change the family’s fortunes because he doesn’t approve of sucking the land dry. Mr. Newman plays the son, Hud, and it’s his job to sneer at the old man’s naïveté and to play the villain, which he does so persuasively that he ends up being the film’s most enduring strength.


I don’t think Mr. Newman was ever as beautiful as he is in “Hud.” His lean, hard-muscled body seems to slash against the wide-screen landscape, evoking the oil derricks to come, and the black-and-white cinematography turns his famous baby blues an eerie shade of gray. The character would be a heartbreaker if he were interested in breaking hearts instead of making time with the bodies that come with them. That’s supposed to make Hud a mean man, but mostly he seems self-interested. No one is tearing him apart and Mr. Newman doesn’t try to plumb the depths with the role, which makes the character and the performance feel more contemporary than many of the head cases of the previous decade. He finds depths in these shallows.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Dollar Signs of Autumn

I'm still wising I was at Dodge -- so I'm going to print another poem. One of my favorite poems. Tomorrow I will look at the speeches -- I was too heartsick to watch...

The Dollar Signs of Autumn
by Thomas Sayers Ellis

from The Maverick Room (Graywolf Press/ January 2005).

Dip a finger in a dark
viscous substance
and write on the window
of our world. OIL.
--Nadine Gordimer

G-R-E-E-D did this.
Greed and fall, nature's seasonal debris

of brilliant symbolism.
I, too, have prayed for more places to hide

in the shade
between stanzas.

Metaphorically warning students
Workshops are war,
I now wish life would stop imitating life,

and that I was talented enough to resist the images
of the S inside the eleven as a hero behind bars.

O but I am not.
The media's cash register of bodies,

and the twin terrors at the center of the word dollar
have made me and my craft liar-cowards.

S for September, s for suffering, s for save us.
Damn you autumn,
flags are not flowers.

Friday, September 26, 2008

The R. Stands for Oil

Well, I was supposed to go to the Dodge Poetry Festival this weekend -- but I'm too busy. Bleck.

"Historic Waterloo Village in Stanhope, New Jersey will be re-opened especially for the audiences of up to 20,000 expected for the 12th biennial Geraldine R. Dodge Poetry Festival, which will run from Thursday, September 25 through Sunday, September 28, 2008.

Join poets Chris Abani, Coleman Barks, Coral Bracho, Billy Collins, Lucille Clifton, Mark Doty, Martín Espada, Joy Harjo, Robert Hass, Brenda Hillman, Edward Hirsch, Jane Hirshfield, Ted Kooser, Maxine Kumin, Naomi Shihab Nye, Sharon Olds, Linda Pastan, Charles Simic, C. D. Wright, Franz Wright and dozens of other accomplished poets, musicians and storytellers for four days of poetry and music beside the Musconetcong River and among Waterloo Village’s lawns, trees, and landmark historic buildings." (from the website)

So, I looked up Geraldine R. Dodge -- whose name is synonymous with patron of the arts...

"The Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation was created in 1973 with an $85 million bequest following the death on August 13, 1973, of Geraldine Rockefeller Dodge. Dodge was the youngest child of Standard Oil tycoon William Rockefeller and Almira Geraldine Goodsell.

The mission of the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation is to support and encourage those educational, cultural, social and environmental values that contribute to making our society more humane and our world more livable." (Wikipedia)

The moments when you can see the fabric of how our country was woven of oil are always frightening to me...

A poem from last year's festival...

Thursday, September 25, 2008

My Theory...

Okay -- first off, I'm 37. I don't know what was up with my math yesterday. My Whole Lifetime...

This out of Lagos yesterday --

"Oil spills worry Bayelsa community
Written by Samuel Oyadongha
Wednesday, 24 September 2008
The Ikarama community in the Yenagoa Local Government Area of Bayelsa State has expressed concern over the incessant oil spill which has devastated a large portion of their community."


I have always been a conspiracy theorist -- I think that started in high school, where my history teacher taught us over and over that there was no truth -- that any information and history we learned was funneled entirely through one perception which was trying to get it's point across...

There is no consistent language. There is no consistent story...

We have no idea what is going on in Lagos -- we being the average American blogger... I read every story I see that comes out of Nigeria and I have absolutely no idea -- I do have some guesses... some guesses about quiet ways to punish people to quell uprising...

MEND and Shell are at war -- they are at war over oil -- the oil is bleeding out and covering everything -- as subjects of war are want to do...


"Vanguard investigations revealed that this predominantly fishing and farming settlement had in the last four months experienced no fewer than three different spills around the Okordia manifold owned by the Anglo-Dutch oil giant, Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC)."


I do searches for "oil spill" all the time --
I have never seen that phrase before...

Incessant oil spill

Devastated a large portion of their community -- that I feel like I have.

What does it mean -- devistated? Is the earth oozing black? Are the wells on fire? How heavy is that smell that Exxon told my father was a rotting whale (allegedly -- my father's memory...)?

Are people dying?
Are people dying yet?


"Although the cause of the spills could not be ascertained but sources told Vanguard that a leakage was noticed on June 15, 2008 by the natives and that another spill occurred sometime in July when the company was yet to take steps to address the clean up while a new spill occurred on August 27, 2008.

An indigene of the area who spoke anonymously said though the JIT report of the spills around the manifold recorded equipment failure as cause of one of the spills he however blamed the incessant spills on alleged complicity on the part of the oil company contractors with some youths of the area.

The native who lamented the plight of his people said this informed the August 29, 2008 visit of the officials of Environment Right Action (ERA) to the community on a fact finding mission as well as the routine visit of the group field monitor officer to update its record of the despoliation of the environment.
“It is sad to note that Ikarama could be classified as the community with the highest frequency of oil spill related matters and this prompted both local and international environmental rights groups to visit the community in recent times expressing concern for the ecosystem and sustainability of the environment,” he lamented citing the visit of the ERA team.

Continuing he said, “though there had been genuine cases of oil spillage such as that of June 26, 2008 which was blamed on equipment failure according to the JIT report but our environment have suffered so much pollution due to the collaboration between Shell contractors and some youths who took to sabotage oil facilities in the community.”"


I've been lazy with the car lately. Driving like I had no idea at all...

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

After a Lifetime of Absence...

From the NY Times:

Shell Opens an Office in Baghdad After a 36-Year Absence

Published: September 22, 2008

BAGHDAD — Royal Dutch Shell, one of the world’s biggest oil companies, completed a multibillion-dollar natural gas deal with the Iraqi government on Monday and said it had established an office in Baghdad — the first foreign petroleum giant to do so since Iraq nationalized its oil industry more than three decades ago.

The company described its decision to open an office here as a milestone that partly reflected the vast improvement in Iraq’s stability compared with conditions during the worst years of the war. But in a sobering reminder of the underlying dangers of doing business here, the company would not disclose the location of its office, and the senior Shell official who announced the gas deal was accompanied by a phalanx of armed guards.

That's almost my whole lifetime. Not quite -- almost.

I'm thinking about human nature -- cycles and human nature
Where do we go that is too dangerous... how far will we go for greed...
I don't know -- this article is written as if this were a show of support or of progress --

All I can think is that we haven't begun to see how bad things can get -- this is the same company that this week claimed it could not fulfill its exports from Nigeria.

All I can think is that people are crazy - that even in the face of danger and destruction we would rather do what it is we know than find new ways...

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Keep it Simple

A gallon of oil weighs 6-8 pounds. A gallon of motor oil at around 6 and a gallon of crude oil around 8.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Off Shore Spills

from the Globe and Mail:

Oil spills off Newfoundland far exceed estimates, study finds


September 16, 2008

The number of oil spills from a pair of drilling projects off the coast of Newfoundland and Labrador has already far exceeded preconstruction estimates, a study released this week says, but the statistics are being disputed by the province's regulator.

Husky Energy's White Rose development has had four spills of between one and 50 barrels (up to about 7,500 litres) in volume since opening five years ago, including one last week, the study shows. But in White Rose's predevelopment environmental assessment, it forecast just 2.38 such spills over the entire history of the project - at least 15 years.

Another offshore platform, Petro-Canada's Terra Nova project, forecast 5.3 spills of the same size and has reported at least 34 since 1999, the study charges.

The discrepancies show a failure by the Canada-Newfoundland Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board to follow up on the mandatory environmental assessments to ensure the forecasts were realistic, said lead researcher Gail Fraser, a bird biologist at York University.


Since 1997, Newfoundland has had 337 spills totalling some 2,700 barrels, or 430,000 litres. The biggest came in 2005, when more than 1,000 barrels spilled from Terra Nova.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

My Oil War

Nigerian Militants Announce Cease-Fire in Oil-Rich Niger Delta

By Karl Maier

Sept. 21 (Bloomberg) -- Nigeria's main militant group announced a cease-fire ``until further notice'' in the oil-rich Niger River delta region.

The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta said it decided to halt a week of attacks on Africa's biggest oil industry because of pleas from prominent people from the region.

``We hope that the military has learnt a bitter lesson,'' MEND spokesman Jomo Gbomo said in an e-mailed statement today. ``The next unprovoked attack will start another oil war that will be so ferocious that it will dim the pleas of the elders.''

MEND declared an ``oil war'' in the southern delta, which accounts for almost all of the country's oil, after the military launched an offensive on Sept. 13 against its positions. In the past week the group has attacked pipelines and oil pumping stations run by the Nigerian units of Royal Dutch Shell Plc, Chevron Corp. and Eni SpA.

To contact the reporter on this story: Karl Maier in Rome at kmaier2@bloomberg.net.
Last Updated: September 21, 2008 04:36 EDT

I follow the news in Nigeria.
I never hear of attacks by the government.
Still, I hear nothing of deaths and conditions.
We should be hearing about deaths and conditions. Not pipelines.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

My Force Majeure

Sat 20 Sep 2008, 8:47 GMT
LAGOS (Reuters) - Royal Dutch Shell said on Saturday it had declared a second force majeure on crude oil shipments from Nigeria following militant attacks in recent days on its facilities in the Niger Delta.

Shell last week extended a force majeure, which frees it from contractual obligations, on Bonny oil exports from Nigeria following a militant attack in late July.

It said it had declared the second force majeure on Bonny Light shipments on Friday, following further attacks by militants this week.

This from the Yale law library:
Force Majeure literally means "greater force". These clauses excuse a party from liability if some unforseen event beyond the control of that party prevents it from performing its obligations under the contract. Typically, force majeure clauses cover natural disasters or other "Acts of God", war, or the failure of third parties--such as suppliers and subcontractors--to perform their obligations to the contracting party. It is important to remember that force majeure clauses are intended to excuse a party only if the failure to perform could not be avoided by the exercise of due care by that party.

(((Of course, one might argue that with due care on the part of shell the people in Nigeria wouldn't be starving, drinking oil coated water or be getting so damned sick of it in the first place...)))

When negotiating force majeure clauses, make sure that the clause applies equally to all parties to the agreement--not just the licensor. Also, it is helpful if the clause sets forth some specific examples of acts that will excuse performance under the clause, such as wars, natural disasters, and other major events that are clearly outside a party's control. Inclusion of examples will help to make clear the parties' intent that such clauses are not intended to apply to excuse failures to perform for reasons within the control of the parties.

One can imagine the contract now... if rebels come to attack the facility because they want me to leave the country we have been exploiting for all these years, then we will be relieved of the contracts we have signed to deliver oil to more prosperous nations.

And I am so self centered... I'm thinking about what in my life I would like to excersise a Force Majeure upon...

Friday, September 19, 2008

Speaking of Criminal...

LAKE CHARLES, La. (AP) — Citgo Petroleum Corp. pleaded guilty Wednesday to violating environmental laws in a massive 2006 oil spill at its refinery in southwestern Louisiana, federal officials said.

The spill shut 20 miles of the Calcasieu River, its ship channel and three area lakes for weeks. The cleanup cost millions of dollars and involved thousands of workers.

Citgo pleaded guilty to negligently failing to maintain storm water tanks and failing to maintain adequate storm water storage capacity at its refinery, resulting in about 53,000 barrels of oil being discharged into the Indian Marais and Calcasieu rivers, the U.S. Justice Department said in a news release.

The company must pay $13 million, the largest fine ever for a criminal misdemeanor violation of the Clean Water Act, the Justice Department said.

The refinery, which is in Sulphur about 20 miles from the Texas border, also must implement a comprehensive environmental compliance program.

"The protection of the environment is among our highest priorities," said U.S. Attorney Donald Washington. "We will not allow corporations or their employees to escape liability for failing to do their part in preventing harm to the environment."

It's this last quote that interests me -- interests me in the way that things do sometimes -- when they stand out as irony that could only be written in fiction -- but there they are in real life.

Once I was at the orange bowl parade with my cousins -- who own dog tacks and casinos. It was years ago, when the lottery was just infringing on our societies -- maybe still illegal in Massachusetts... anyway -- the lotto float rolled passed us, sitting there in the bleachers. My cousin -- older -- the one running the business -- stood up and with his fist up started yelling -- "down with lotto, don't take the poor people's money."

as if...

as if the government were in a position to make holier than thou quotes about protecting the environment -- and the day after easing drilling restrictions.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

A criminal alter ego is not an easy thing to overcome...

The senate passed the off shore drilling ban leniency...

I was actually looking for something about ancient Egypt...

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Production Between Storms

Well -- the price of oil is dropping... The LA Times calls it a "swan dive" the Chicago Tribune said "free fall" ...
I haven't even looked at the Times today --

This all in the wake of the news that Ike did extensive damage to platforms and pipelines in the Gulf.

According to the AP:

Mr. Herbst said the aerial inspections showed Ike damaged several large pipelines, but the extent of the damage was not known.

Since just before Gustav's arrival two weeks ago, nearly 100 percent of Gulf Coast crude production had stopped, or about 1.3 million barrels per day. About 98 percent of all natural gas production is on hold.

There was limited production between storms, but that ended as Ike approached.

Word that Ike did more damage than Gustav left open the question about how high gas prices would go, and how long they would remain there.

A gallon of regular gas soared past $5 per gallon in some areas, notably in regions that rely directly on a link to the mass of Gulf refineries that usually produce millions of gallons of gasoline each day.

More than half of Texas' refineries have been shut down because of Ike, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

So -- kings were anointed with oil.

I think this is the beginning of a beautiful tangent...

The Anointing of David, from the Paris Psalter, 10th century (Bibliotheque Nationale, Paris).


Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Struck Diamond

I am still sick of the news. Today, rebels attacked an oil refinery in Nigeria -- Floridians are ready to trade the dolphins for drilling...

but -- I learned something new --

sometimes -- there are diamonds in oil!

Published: December 3, 2002

In oil, scientists have struck diamond.

Researchers at ChevronTexaco in Richmond, Calif., have discovered tiny diamond fragments of a wide variety of shapes and sizes within crude oil from the Gulf of Mexico.

Nothing that could be used for a ring or a necklace, though. Even the largest fragment is far too small to be seen -- less than a billionth of a billionth of a carat.

But the infinitesimal size could be just what scientists want: potential building blocks for the construction of molecular-scale machinery.

''A good analogy for these are Legos,'' said one of the researchers, Dr. Jeremy E. Dahl, an organic geochemist at ChevronTexaco. ''It's a brand new set of materials that no one has ever looked at.''

The diamond fragments, which form naturally in petroleum and natural gas, could also find use in electronics or as novel drugs.

Dr. Dahl, along with his colleagues Dr. Shenggao Liu and Dr. Robert M. K. Carlson, will report their findings in a future issue of the journal Science.

In a way, isn't it supremely unfair? Like those people who can paint and compose -- or are beautiful and kind... the fight only remains which rarity is more valuable...

it's the polarity too… the clarity v. the light absorption. Black v. clear. Hard v. viscous.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Am I Still Learning?

Vittorio Hernandez - AHN News Writer

Edmonton, Alberta (AHN) - Between 300 to 500 birds have been killed by an oil spill in Alberta, Canada. The feathered creatures were mostly ducks and swallows.

The dead birds were discovered at an out-of-service conventional oil well at CFB Suffield, run by Harvest Energy Trust.

This is the second publicized incident of massive bird deaths caused by oil spills. Previously 500 ducks and other waterfowl were discovered inside the waste pond of the Syncrude Canada Limited oil sands plant.

The leak at the Harvest plant was a conventional oil field, not an oil sand, said Mike Hudema, spokesman of Greenpeace Canada. "It really points to the fact that the environment in Alberta is not under good hands or good management right now. Things are really spinning wildly out of control," Hudema told the Globe and Mail.

It's hard to keep learning new things.
If I learn news am I still learning?

I think it is important to remember that people and places are constantly being polluted -- maybe that's enough. My 6 year old son has been playing a game called Axis and Allies -- last night he said that I was Great Britain and he was Germany. I find the whole thing very disconcerting -- why this comes up in relation to dead birds in Canada I'm not sure -- except to say that history is so clear.

The other news today is how closer we are getting to new off shore drilling laws.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Saturday, September 13, 2008

More than 20 percent of US oil refining shut down

I went to dinner at the Cheesecake factory the night before last with one of my oldest and dearest friends -- she's got two kids and a husband currently deployed to Texas in the guard -- as we were passing the fluffy pillow cart, her husband text messaged her that he was on his way to guard the house of the CEO of Exxon...

By Chris Baltimore and Anna Driver

HOUSTON, Sept 13
- (Reuters) - Hurricane Ike barreled into the densely populated Texas coast near Houston early on Saturday, bringing with it a wall of water and ferocious winds that could cause catastrophic flooding along the Gulf of Mexico and cripple the fourth-largest U.S. city.

Ike, which has idled more than a fifth of U.S. oil production, came ashore at the barrier island city of Galveston as a Category 2 storm at about 2:10 a.m. CDT (0710 GMT) with 110 mph (175 kph) winds. It was just 1 mile per hour shy of reaching Category 3 strength on the five-step intensity scale, the National Hurricane Center said.

Published: September 11, 2008

The oil industry is reeling from the one-two punch of Gustav and Ike. Gustav did little damage to refineries and offshore oil and gas platforms, but Louisiana refineries have struggled to come back online because of power failures.

Of the 677 oil and gas platforms exposed to hurricane-force winds from Gustav, only one was destroyed. But most of them had to be shut down ahead of the storm, and by the time companies were ready to send crews back to restart production, Ike was on its way.

About 97 percent of oil production in the Gulf and 93 percent of natural gas production were shut down as of Wednesday, according to the United States Minerals Management Service. The Gulf region accounts for about 25 percent of the nation’s domestic oil production and 15 percent of natural gas output.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Rest in Peace.

Reginald Shepherd (1963-2008)

Skin Trade

And then I said, That's what it means
to testify: to sit in the locked dark muttering
when you should be dead to the world. The muse
just shrugged and shaded his blue eyes. So naturally
I followed him down to his father's house
by the river, a converted factory in the old
industrial park: somewhere to sit
on threadbare cushions eating my words
and his promises, safe as milk
that dries the throat. If I had a home,
he'd be that unmade bed. He's my America
twisted in dirty sheets, my inspiration
for a sleepless night. No getting around that
white skin.
He throws things out the window
he should keep; he collects things
he should feed to the river. He takes me
down. While there, I pick them up.

The river always does this to me:
gulls squawking and the smell of paper mills
upstream, air crowded with effluents
like riding the bus underwater. I'm spending nights
in the polluted current, teaching sunken bodies how
to swim. My feet always stay wet. Sometimes
I leave footprints the shape of blood; sometimes glass
flows through broken veins, and I glitter.
Every other step refers to white men
and their names. The spaces in between
are mine. Back of the bus with you,
nigger. They're turning warehouses
into condos, I'm selling everything
at clearance prices: here's a bronze star
for suffering quietly like a good
River of salt, will I see my love again?
Cold viscous water holds its course even after
it's gone. Throw a face into it and you'll never look
again, throw a voice and you'll hear sobbing
all the way down. Narcissus, that's my flower
forced in January, black-eyed bells echoing
sluggish eddies. Who hit him first?

The muse has covered his face
with his hands. It's just a reflex
of the historical storm that sired him:
something to say, "The sun is beating down
too hard on my pith helmet, the oil slick
on the river's not my fault, when are you going
home?" What he doesn't want to see, he doesn't
see. In the sludge that drowns the river, rats
pick fights with the debris. He calls them all
by their first names, he's looking through his fingers
like a fence. They make good neighbors. His friends
make do with what they can. They drink beer
from sewer-colored bottles in the dry stream
bed, powdered milk of human kindness and evaporated
silt. They stay by the river till past
sunrise, crooning a lullaby
to help it to sleep. The words
of their drinking songs are scrawled on the ceiling,
Mene, mene, tekel, upharsin: a madrigal
for the millennium's end.
I'm counting
down the days in someone else's
unmade bed, let these things break
their hold on me. The world
would like to see me dead, another gone
black man. I'm still awake.

One Side Thing

Opinion today again... ugh.

"America spends more than $200,000 per minute on foreign oil -- $13 million per hour. More than $25 billion a year goes for Persian Gulf imports alone"

This is the beginning of a new paper from the NDRC -- the Natural Resources Defense Counsel. I often wonder about where their money is coming from -- though I usually agree with what they say on matters and a friend from high school has a big spot there... I just haven't done the work.

But this seems to me to be the new line of attack -- that it's a national security and economic issue -- the dependence on oil: "
America's dependence on oil is a threat to our national security and our economy."

Well, I think it's true -- but it also strikes me as a populist ploy -- as in the one rallying cry sure to make the masses of this country sit up and take notice... they will get all our money...

I'm concerned that our rallying cry -- the only one to be gaining headway -- is a racist, isolationist one -- one sure to breed more contempt and more fear, having little to so with the environment or our heath.

us and them...


we the people of this world

we the inhabitors of this planet and the breathers of the air...

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Donations Saught For Winter Heating Assistance

I found this article by Lynn Doan from the Hartford Courant originally linked on Peak Oil. You know, I never add that dollar onto my bill...
Why is it so hard to get outside of ourselves?

"We really need everyone's help," said the executive direcotr of Operation Fuel, Patricia Wrice, recounting the story of an elderly man in eastern Connecticut who received aid for the first time last winter. "The following week, he called to say he'd taken a hot shower for the first time in two months."


State lawmakers voted in a special session Friday to set aside $14 million of the state's anticipated surplus for Operation Fuel, but the allocation isn't nearly enough to cover a statewide affordability gap of more than $405 million — a calculation based on the difference between the average energy bill and what a low-income household can afford.

Rell, who attended Monday's launch of the public awareness campaign, urged the public to pitch in.

"More is going to be needed," she said.

Operation Fuel has raised less than $200,000 through private donations for the upcoming winter, though it is still early in the fund-raising season. Officials are hoping the ad campaign, which includes the TV spots, print ads and brochures, will persuade more residents to donate.

Wrice said less than 2 percent of electricity customers currently choose to donate $1 on their monthly bill to Operation Fuel.

Last year, those donations tacked onto monthly bills — along with a match by Connecticut Light & Power Co. — totaled $487,000. The group received an additional $913,000 from individuals and businesses last year, and $5 million from the state.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

In Response

Well, I'm not editorializing today -- but as a sometimes media prof I find this a fascinating little tid-bit.

This came into my inbox as a response to Palin's speach.

Monday, September 8, 2008

What is enough in return...

The question of what we want and what we want to protect -- what we are willing to give up and at what cost -- I think this question is going to compound itself over the next years.
My prediction -- we will give up too much. We will not get enough in return.
Desperation, greed, desire... they all go against nature.


BLM: 7/22/08

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Land Management today published proposed regulations to establish a commercial oil shale program that could result in the addition of up to 800 billion barrels of recoverable oil from lands in the western United States.

In keeping with the Energy Policy Act of 2005 and the Mineral Leasing Act of 1920, the BLM is proposing regulations that would provide the critical “rules of the road” on which private investors will rely in determining whether to make future financial commitments to prospective oil shale projects.

“As Americans pay more than $4 for a gallon of gasoline and watch energy prices continue to climb higher and higher, we need to be doing more to develop our own energy here at home, through resources such as oil shale,” said Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne. “Instead, I find it ironic that we are asking countries halfway around the world to produce more for us.”

AP/Forbes: 8/15/08
The Roan boasts open land, deep canyons and rugged peaks as high as 9,000 feet. It provides winter habitat for some of the country's largest elk and mule deer herds and is home to mountain lions, peregrine falcons, bears, rare plants and native cutthroat trout.

The BLM's plan calls for 1,570 wells drilled from 193 pads and over 20 years, including 210 wells from 13 pads on top of the plateau. The BLM says its proposal would preserve 51 percent of land on the Roan while allowing recovery of more than 90 percent of natural gas there.


You fooled us once, BLM ...

By The Denver Post

Memo to: The U.S. Bureau of Land Management

From: The people of Colorado, Utah and Wyoming

Subject: Fool us once . . .

On Aug. 14 you disregarded pleas from Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter to phase in leasing on 55,186 acres of the Roan Plateau believed to hold 9 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. Ritter argued a phased-in plan would provide better protection for wildlife and ultimately a higher return for state and federal taxpayers.

With the superior wisdom of the federal bureaucracy, you ignored the carefully crafted proposal by the people who actually live here and leased all the land in one fell swoop.

Unfortunately, your swoop fell. And fell hard. We had been promised by industry boosters like Americans for American Energy that Colorado's share of the leasing bonuses would be about $1 billion. But because BLM glutted the market with a mass leasing, we received just $56 million.

Next time, it might be best to listen to the locals.

But then last week you unveiled another bright idea: a plan to open nearly 2 million acres of public land in Colorado, Wyoming and Utah to commercial oil shale development. In one fell swoop again, as fast as possible, before the pro-development Bush administration gives way to either Barack Obama or John McCain, both of whom have promised to be more sensitive to the environment and less beholden to the oil industry.

This time, the resource is even bigger than the Roan and contains 800 billion barrels of recoverable oil. And the BLM says we need to lease it all now, posthaste, flooding the market again in return for more chump change.

Here's the thing: Coloradans have been promised an oil shale boom since the early 1900s. It hasn't happened. There are thousands of acres already under lease, far more than enough for current research. And most experts predict commercial production is at least a decade away.

Besides, commercial production would raise serious issues about the West's most precious resource — our water — that must be addressed first.

We agree with Ritter, who said: "Finalizing an environmental impact statement without any clear understanding of the environmental, community, economic and energy impacts of commercial-scale oil shale development is irresponsible, short-sighted and premature."

Frankly, having been burned on the Roan, Westerners don't really expect the BLM to listen to reason on oil shale.

But Congress will listen, and we urge lawmakers to keep the existing moratorium on oil shale leases intact until state and local officials have a chance to weigh the tremendous issues at stake.

That way, as The Who once said, We don't get fooled again!

Sunday, September 7, 2008


It's 430 in the morning and I am getting ready to drive in the dark and the pouring rain to a wedding in Connecticut at which I am sure to cry.

It seems, according to one website which will remain nameless, that one traditional wedding favor at Chinese weddings is (was?) an oil lamp.

Saturday, September 6, 2008


Read the whole article here.

Palin: the real scandal
The Indipendent
By Leonard Doyle in Anchorage
Saturday, 6 September 2008

Seen from the air, Sarah Palin's state is an environmental wonderland. From Anchorage to the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, there is a vast landscape of snow-capped peaks, fjords, crystal glaciers, coastal lagoons, wide river deltas and tundra.

The guardian of this wilderness – and Governor of Alaska – has, this week, become one of the most recognisable faces in the world. But behind her beaming smile and wholesome family values is a woman aligned with the big oil and coal firms that are racing to exploit Alaska's vast energy reserves. In the short term, that has bought her popularity at home.

"I love the woman," the pilot on our flight shouts over the noise of the engine, "especially what she wants to do with oil, we just have to drill more, there is no alternative. What's the point of leaving it all in the ground?"

It is a stance that guaranteed John McCain's new running mate a rapturous reception at the Republican convention this week where the response to the coming energy crisis was a chant of "drill, baby, drill".

But the woman who could soon be a 72-year-old's heartbeat away from the United States presidency has an environmental policy so toxic it would make the incumbent, George Bush, blush.

Mr McCain has stressed he is concerned about global warming and has come out against drilling in the Arctic reserve. But, in recent weeks, he has wobbled on the issue. And environmentalists are describing Mrs Palin, who denies climate change is man-made, as "either grossly misinformed or intentionally misleading".


Friday, September 5, 2008


Ack. Totally opinion today. Sorry.

I've been staying away from politics for the most part, lately -- I'm afraid of what we are about to enter into -- I think the potential for a really humanly ugly six months is really high... Furthermore -- when, 12 years ago -- I was in J-school covering politics in Washington -- McCain really was an innovative maverick -- pursuing bipartisanship and many important, progressive initiatives.

But with McCain's choice in Palin I suddenly feel the urgency again -- it's a funny play between pessimism and reality setting in...

From McCain's transcript yesterday --
"And, finally, a word to Senator Obama and his supporters. We'll go at it all over the next two months -- you know that's the nature of this business -- and there are big differences between us. But you have my respect and my admiration."

NO. You cannot offer me your respect and admiration and then do what you are about to do. Because I do not believe John McCain is racist I think what I imagine is about to transpire is even worse...

"We lost their trust when rather than reform government, both parties made it bigger. We lost their trust when instead of freeing ourselves from a dangerous dependence on foreign oil, both parties and Senator Obama passed another corporate welfare bill for oil companies. We lost their trust, when we valued our power over our principles. We’re going to change that. We’re going to recover the people’s trust by standing up again for the values Americans admire."

Thomas Friedman wrote an amazing column on Tuesday. I highly recommend it.

here's the link
or you can go to the times and search for Friedman.
Here's the first two paragraphs -- but really, when I read his articles sometimes I just wish I was him.

Published: September 2, 2008

As we emerge from Labor Day, college students are gathering back on campuses not only to start the fall semester, but also, in some cases, to vote for the first time in a presidential election. There is no bigger issue on campuses these days than environment/energy. Going into this election, I thought that — for the first time — we would have a choice between two “green” candidates. That view is no longer operative — and college students (and everyone else) need to understand that.

With his choice of Sarah Palin — the Alaska governor who has advocated drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and does not believe mankind is playing any role in climate change — for vice president, John McCain has completed his makeover from the greenest Republican to run for president to just another representative of big oil.


So, college students, don’t let anyone tell you that on the issue of green, this election is not important. It is vitally important, and the alternatives could not be more black and white.

The times also ran this groovy little bubble graphic illustrating how often candidates used specific words in their speeches.

Obama said Mc Cain 78 times.
McCain said Obama 25 times.
Obama said Energy 49 times.
McCain said Energy 26 times.
Obama said Iraq 25 times.
McCain said Irap 16 times.

Oil didn't make the list.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Of Loss

It's one of those art project days...

I slept restlessly -- thinking about loss...

Totaling up Gustav’s damage
The Associated Press

Ships and barges that broke moorings and ran aground as a result of Hurricane Gustav cluttered the Industrial Canal in New Orleans on Tuesday. But the Mississippi River was already open to some traffic Tuesday morning.

Ships and barges that broke moorings and ran aground as a result of Hurricane Gustav cluttered the Industrial Canal in New Orleans on Tuesday. But the Mississippi River was already open to some traffic Tuesday morning.

BEAUMONT, Texas | Residential and commercial damages from Hurricane Gustav will trigger an estimated $4 billion to $10 billion in insurance claims, a third of which could affect the energy industry.

Although Gustav’s force paled in comparison with Hurricane Katrina, which cost insurers $41 billion, oil workers, utility crews, fishermen and other business owners fanned out Tuesday across the Gulf Coast to assess the damage. Retailers began re-stocking their shelves in anticipation of the cleanup effort, and power crews worked to restore electricity to more than 1 million customers across the region.

BASE METALS: Comex Copper Pressured By Stock Build, Oil Los
Tue, Sep 2 2008, 18:16 GMT

OIL FUTURES: Nymex Crude Extends Loss After Gustav
Dow Jones 9/2

Stocks dip on GM loss, oil, jobs data
Fri Aug 1, 2008 5:12pm EDT

Airline industry sees $5.2b loss this year
Bloomberg News
September 4, 2008

Impacts of the Venezuelan Crude Oil Production Loss
By Joanne Shore and John Hackworth
eia.gov 3/15/07

By February 2003, Venezuelan imports were still less than 50 percent of their pre-strike levels in November. Yet, the 11 refineries with significant dependency on Venezuelan crude oils imports were back to importing crude oils at their November levels. Enough time had elapsed for alternative sources of crude oils to have arrived.

With the loss of about 3 million barrels per day of crude oil production, and with other producers not increasing volumes adequately to replace this loss, prices rose. The high crude prices discouraged all refiners from increasing runs. During a typical January and February, gasoline stocks will build about 10.6 million barrels (range of 8.0-13.5 million barrels from 1995 through 2002). This past January and February, gasoline stocks fell by 7.5 million barrels. For the gasoline stock build to have been in the normal range, refinery inputs would have had to have been 500-600 MB/D above what they were.

Kuwait Refineries Suffer Power Loss
Oil and Gas Insight

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Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Marine Sentinals

Brazil: Oil Slick Kills 200 Penguins

Published: August 28, 2008

More than 200 oil-slicked penguins have washed up dead on the beaches of the resort of Florianópolis, and the authorities said people had reported seeing hundreds more dead. Manuela Osorio, a veterinarian, said 155 live penguins were being treated for “oil intoxication.” Marcelo Duarte of the Santa Catarina State environmental police said the oil probably leaked from a large ship. While it is common in Brazil for some penguins, dead or alive, to be swept by strong currents from the Strait of Magellan, the birds are showing up in greater numbers and farther north than most experts can remember.


Really, this is an animal story -- but can you imagine -- you finally get your family to that resort vacation you've been dreaming about -- and instead of shells there are penguin carcasses everywhere...

It was already a bad summer for the penguins…

Published: July 1, 2008

P. Dee Boersma, a biologist at the University of Washington, has been watching the Magellanic penguins of Punta Tombo, in Argentina, for almost 30 years. For most of that time, their numbers have been declining: breeding pairs are down 22 percent there since 1987, she writes in Tuesday’s issue of BioScience.

But the dwindling numbers do not just mean the birds are suffering, Dr. Boersma writes. Because penguins are “marine sentinels,” their decline is a blunt message that their marine environment is in trouble, chiefly from overfishing and pollution from offshore oil operations and shipping.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008


by Clifford Krauss

On Sunday ahead of Gustav, some gas stations like this one in Gulfport, Miss., were running out of gasoline.

“I don’t know if there was a cheer, but there were plenty of smiles,” Don Pirolo, a ConocoPhillips refinery manager, said of the employees gathered at the company’s emergency operations center here. The crackers, fruit and soft drinks served at the center “taste a lot better today.”

From initial reports, the storm appeared to leave production platforms and refineries essentially unharmed, meaning that oil and gas supplies would not be disrupted and prices at the pump may continue to ease in the days ahead.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Oil Free Labor Day

Gas prices are up today on fear of the storm.
There is a profile on myspace called "oil free labor day"
I didn't know that.
I'll do it.
I did yesterday -- biked everywhere -- it's so nice -- feels good -- air -- free -- plus, you know, you see people -- smile at them and wave.

here's the text from that site.

This is a grass roots effort to shake the oil companies and bring the power back into the consumer. So please spread the word (on and off of myspace) and add this profile to the top of your friends list. Our target is Labor Day Weekend, August 31 - September 3, 2007, and we are asking that everyone try to avoid the pumps and driving if possible during this time. If you must drive, car pool and plan ahead and ultimately maybe we can keep gas prices at a fair market value for the future or just find a cool spot to relax for the weekend and spend the extra money on some good ale!

As always try to minimize gas consumption by car pooling, using public transportation and combining trips the short ones add up.

Our world has become dependant on ail and the fuel that it creates even though cleaner and better technologies exist and their ability to perform is equal to oil based vehicles. While at this time the major oil companies are obtaining record setting profits quickly becoming the richest companies on the block for because they feel they have nothing to fear and the citizens of the world are powerless so they can charge what they like. The US government and most likely any other government for that matter won't do anything because they are in bed with the oil companies. As Americans, if you are and if not you are welcomed as well, we have already had a tea party so what are we waiting for lets have Gas Party!