Monday, July 9, 2012

The Sky is Pink

"Gasland" is a really terrific documentary by filmmaker Josh Fox, that focuses on a technique used to extract gas from the ground, known as hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking".  In his interviews and travels, he meets people who have come down with illnesses and aliments as a result of the "fracking" that goes on in their communities.  In the most infamous scene in the film, a man is shown lighting a lighter below his water tap, which sets the water on fire.

Anyway, he has just released a follow-up short film called "The Sky is Pink".  It serves as an update to "Gasland", and also addresses the plans for drilling and fracking in New York State.  A full sequel to "Gasland" is in production, hopefully to be released this year.

I really liked the title and how it meshes in with the short film itself.  In an interview with a politician, the politician explains how journalism has veered from "investigative", to basically, "he said, she said".  It has gotten to where what is considered a universal fact, such as "the sky is blue", can be contradicted by an industrial claim that "the sky is pink".  The media will take a universal fact, that everyone knows is true, and position it as one that is "under debate".  This is used very much in environmental issues, particularly climate change.

Flims like this are very important, not merely for the environmental stakes of fracking, but as a reminder of how desperate and hard-up we are for utilizing new sources of energy.  This ties in very well with the issue of peak energy.  As we run up against resource limitations, more questionable and risky tactics will be carried out to ensure that our energy supply remains affordable and uninterrupted.  Fracking is one example, drilling wells underwater (Deepwater Horizon) is another.  And more disasters, both great and small, will result.

(As I was posting this video, I realized something disturbing.  The video itself, linked from Youtube, has only 2,633 views.  I would have expected a lot more, considering the pedigree of the film, which I have known a lot of people have seen.  Then I typed "the sky is pink" into the search engine.  The short came in at number 8 on the results list, behind 7 different videos of a song by a guy named Nathan Fake called "The Sky Was Pink".  It just goes to show that money talks.) 

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Jordan MP Pulls Gun During Live Broadcast

I have to admit that I find this video kinda cool.  In a debate on live television, a member of Jordan's Parliament pulled a gun on a critic (whether this man was a journalist or another MP, I don't know) over heated discussion about Jordan's policy towards Syria.  Before that, he threw a shoe at the critic, and the moderator had to break them up; I have to give props to the moderator for breaking them up, even after the MP pulled out his gun.

I think a lot of people may look at a video like this, and conclude that these people are "animals" for resorting to pulling out guns or throwing punches over issues.  From videos I've seen over the years, this is much more common than you would think.  But not in the United States.  In our country, political conflict and debate has never gotten past the verbal stage.  Yes, some of the words used by some are toxic in nature, but no one's ever pulled a gun.  The worst you might see is someone yelling at the President, "YOU LIE", or something to that effect.  So, we might come off as a civilized nation.  But I think that the debate in this country comes off as sterile.  Outside of perhaps social issues (abortion, gay marriage), no politician in this country would ever feel compelled to do anywhere close to what this man in Jordan did.  That is because when you are owned by someone else, or by a collection of interests, and are basically told what to say (or more to the point, how to vote), you lack all conviction.  I believe that a lot of people sense this, albeit unconsciously, and that's one of the reasons why political participation is relatively low in this country.

When I first saw this, the first thing I thought about was the assault on the Senate floor in 1856, when Preston Brooks attacked Charles Sumner with his cane, hitting him with it until it broke.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Fireworks Industry in Biggest Downturn Since Vietnam...Oh Yeah, and Happy 4th of July

To mark the commemoration of our day of independence, here is an article about how the fireworks industry is in their biggest slump since the Vietnam War.  Back then, it was due to the uncertainty of many as to what our country was and what it stood for, as Vietnam was very polarizing.  Now, their woes are more linked to the ongoing economic crisis, as well as the effects of climate change.

I was never much of a fireworks guy; if I ever were in the mood to see any, I can turn on Channel 11 and watch the Macy's Fireworks show; barring that, I can go on Youtube or fire up a screen saver app or something.  But local government's budgets are on a shoestring these days, and for many, fireworks shows are amongst the first things to go; I'm sure there's plenty of money for pork-like projects, though.

What must make it especially tough for those in that industry, is that fireworks sales are mostly limited to professional groups for these kinds of shows, either public or private (and 70 percent of those shows, according to the article, are private corporate affairs).  In many states, including New York, the public is expressly barred from buying fireworks, although some people get around it.

Speaking of which, it is 8:33 PM and I am starting to show them outside my door.  Happy 4th, all.