Archive for May, 2010

[Personal post. You know the deal. Don’t hold it against me. This is how I maintain my sanity…]

Because here lately it seems there’s a need. I suppose I could literally change the narrative by writing — narrating — here but, really, what’s the point? I figure allowing people their fantasies is the least we can do for each other in this life. Does it bother me a little that a highly subjective version of events where the kid here has played a role has been used to my detriment (at least in some circles) in order to promote some kind of ridiculous social standing (I really don’t know if this is correct but it’s the best I could come up with. As always, if that turns out to be not the case I’ll be the first to correct and amend…)? Yes, it does. Most notably from the perspective that it continues to amaze and confound me that certain groups determine worthiness using stupid criteria — or, at the least, those attempting to be valued as worthy believe they do. But also because I’m pretty powerless to do anything about it. It’s not that I’m not a fighter; I am. It’s just that I fight to win and being all crazy and angry wins me exactly nothing. Also, it’s just kind of a pathetic move, one I haven’t encountered in any meaningful sense since high school. Very fitting considering the early 20 something bartender’s music compilation playing overhead is just a menagerie of the hits from my high school years. And to think, I moved here in an attempt to further my growth as an adult. Heh. Anyway, don’t worry — just a little pothole. I’m already over it.

Sitting here, contemplating attending this (Thank you Miss Molly, for the invite. Also, outdoor movies? In.), reading this, watching these guys, drinking this, and listening to this (the last reminds me of all those lake house weekends on Lake Burton in the beautiful hills of North Georgia. Thinking of you Barry, Matt, Christy, Erin, Brooks, Chris F., Mark, Brian, Michelle et al. I love all you guys and miss you terribly sometimes.)

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Again, I got nothin. My brain is fried and the office is shutting down early so I think I might go to the haunt and drink some alcohol and write a little in lieu of anything better to do. But — and I know this makes me horribly girly and probably crazy un-hip — I did hear Kelly Clarkson was playing Ford’s Theater this weekend for Memorial Day stuff. While I’m not an attendee of her concerts I must admit, I like some of her songs. They’re total girl power. Dig it. Also, this kind of thing fascinates me. Orwell would be proud. Also, very, very cool. Huge fan. Different Seasons was one of those books that will never leave me. And I think President Clinton has no problem playing the fall guy. He’s probably pretty bored these days? And that’s all I have to say there because even talking about it makes me feel kinda dirty…

So, have some girl pop in your face while I contemplate a Bloody Mary.

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Busy writing today on union bailouts and waste sites over aquifers, so I don’t have much. Also, I need to do a little mental house cleaning (again) and if I write too much here then some of that house cleaning is bound to spill out and really, no offense, it’s none of your bidness. But I will say I found it very amusing when a co-worker said yesterday that it was unbearably hot outside and it felt like a mild spring day to me. This, people, is what it means to be from the Deep South. I actually feel normal and healthy when I sweat. And, because DC is basically built on a swamp, I suspect my first summer here will be a wet one. Bring it on.

Also, two of my dance friends from back home are coming to visit in July. I’m very excited. Trying to get them here the weekend of a softball game so they can meet the boys (and the few girls who actually hang out after the games — I’m looking at you Kate…). It should be fun. They’ll be my first visitors and I actually feel like I can be entertaining to them. I was worried about that at first…

Also, I’m going to attend this in preparation for the Strasburg debut. Did I mention that the Nats are winning my heart? Of course, the Braves will always be my team. But I find myself really pulling for the Nats, really interested in seeing them win. But don’t worry Braves baby…you’re my team when you play the Nats. You know that silly.

UPDATE: Oh dear. Why does this oil spill press conference make me feel sick…key sentences:

While the immediate financial cost may be tolerable, some analysts caution that inevitable regulatory changes in response to the spill will have a longer-term effect on the whole industry.

“A clear outcome of the Macondo well blow out will be higher offshore drilling costs in the future,” said Evolution Securities in a research note.

UPDATE 2: English pirate on Facebook makes me happy. (h/t Appletini)

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Oh LOST, you made me cry. And I liked it. I won’t go too deep into it but I really liked the way the writers ended the show. Deeply and profoundly, leaving many questions unanswered without apology. Just like life. There will certainly be those who are bothered by this — they are the same people who complain about everything because, as this show pointed out time and again, there really are no neat answers and you don’t always get what you want. That’s just life, which, to my mind, was the great and simple metaphor of the show. Nothing more remarkable than the connection between a group pf people. Nothing more remarkable. So those people who want to moan and demand their answers can go right ahead and I’ll just respond the way I was directed to: with a good cry because it made me really miss my dog; heavy thinking about the things and people who are important to me and why I need to protect those relationships even though it’s painfully difficult sometimes; and the urge to re-read CS Lewis’ The Great Divorce (which I did until the wee hours of the morning).

Thank you LOST writers. I’m so glad there are other believers in this world. It mitigates the moments of loneliness that accompany life on the island.

UPDATE: just cause, here’s an apropos excerpt from Lewis’ Great Divorce. Great book man. Seriously.

But what you ask of earth? Earth, I think, will not be found by anyone to be in the end a very distinct place. I think earth, if chosen instead of Heaven, will turn out to have been, all along, only a region in Hell: and earth, if put second to Heaven, to have been from the beginning a part of Heaven itself.

“‘That is what mortals misunderstand. They say of some temporal suffering, ‘No future bliss can make up for it,’ not knowing that Heaven, once attained, will work backwards and turn even that agony into a glory. And of some sinful pleasure they say ‘Let me have but this and I’ll take the consequences’: little dreaming how damnation will spread back and back into their past and contaminate the pleasure of sin. Both processes begin even before death. The good man’s past begins to change so that his forgiven sins and remembered sorrows take on the quality of Heaven: the bad man’s past already conforms to his badness and is filled only with dreariness. And that is why, at the end of all things, when the sun rises here and the twilight turns to blackness down there, the Blessed will say ‘We have never lived anywhere except Heaven,’ and the Lost, ‘We were always in Hell.’ And both will speak truly.’

‘Is that not very hard Sir?’

‘I mean, that is the real sense of what they will say. In the actual language of the Lost, the words will be different, no doubt. One will say he has always served his country right or wrong; and another that he has sacrificed everything to his Art; and some that they’ve never been taken in, and some that, thank God, they’ve always looked after Number One, and nearly all, that, at least they’ve been true to themselves.’

‘And the Saved?’

‘Ah, the Saved… what happens to them is best described as the opposite of a mirage. What seemed, when they entered it, to be the vale of misery turns out, when they look back, to have been a well; and where present experience saw only salt deserts, memory truthfully records that the pools were full of water.’”

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Let me amend

SSP. And, because these are op-eds and so there’s no official correction process for these kinds of things, I’ll do it here because God forbid people think I don’t care about the health of the kids…

This line, “While virtually no one would argue that anything that leads to healthier children is a good thing…” should actually say, “While virtually no one would argue that anything that leads to healthier children ISN’T a good thing…”

Shoot. Totally my bad. That is indeed what I wrote. Mistake. If you read the rest of the piece you pick up that it’s a mistake but, you know, “in print” is a serious concept. It’s funny because I was just reading this yesterday and laughing. Yeah, now it doesn’t seem so funny. Ah well, I’m correcting as best I can and still learning to be a little more cautious. But, for the record, childhood obesity = bad. So don’t come to me saying I don’t care about the health of the kids. I’ll say you’re a big dumb liar. And I’ll have something to point to. So there.

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And these are probably true.

Also, a bit ago, I was saying that I should try to be nicer as I write op-eds under my byline. Well, more diplomatic. And then the softball coach pointed me here and now I’m kinda thinking funny is better. Brutal. But hilarious.

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Heh. I lied. (Thanks Moira)

Also, pleased to get a review copy of this book. I’m gonna read it really fast — hopefully — and review it. You can borrow it when I’m done.

Listening to this at this very moment and missing the dance girls back in Athens. I hate leaving friends.

UPDATE: now it’s this. I forgot how much I love this video…

UPDATE 2: And now this one. Good to have you back Rhapsody.

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Wrote this last week as an op-ed and it was not, sadly, published. So I give it to you. Try not to kvetch from the excitement of reading my thoughts on the bureaucracy…

Energy agency split may not solve the problem

It takes a back seat to larger, sexier stories, but Interior Secretary Ken Salazar’s statements about splitting the agency that handles components of offshore drilling in response to the Gulf Coast oil spill presents an interesting study in potential versus pattern.
The Minerals Management Service, the agency Salazar has proposed bisecting, has two (some say opposed) core services – safety, inspection, and regulation of oil rigs and companies; and overseeing the leases for drilling while collecting billions of dollars in oil royalties. Some of the justification for separating the two functions seems to be that there is an inherent conflict of interest within the agency – ultimately, they are asked to regulate and police an industry and then turn around and look to that same industry for payment.
The decision comes as a result of the Gulf Coast oil spill, a legitimate tragedy that claimed 11 lives, yet not quite the ecological disaster (yet) of the Exxon Valdez accident of 1989. It is, however, being used to justify Obama’s recent decision to suspend permitting of new wells pending an investigation of what happened on the Deepwater Horizon rig as it drilled on behalf of British oil company BP. It is also being used as justification to split an agency critics say had shifted much of the regulatory and safety responsibility onto the oil industry over the last 10 years.
So, ostensibly, this represents an effort, backed by a legitimate tragedy, to decrease big bureaucratic offices into smaller, more efficient ones. Or does it?
Apparently, in order to split the agency into one that presents “no conflict, real or perceived,” according to Salazar, he will be asking for $29 million in new funding, to be used for greater regulatory powers of inspection and enforcement. He will also press for a longer period of time in which regulators can review oil-exploration plans, a move designed to appeal to, if not appease, environmental concerns.
More telling are Salazar’s words indicating that his decision is part of a broader “reform agenda.” Pay close attention to those words. He is not indicating that his efforts are an attempt to reform problems in the oil industry that may have led to the accident in the Gulf. Rather, he links the efforts to split the agency to a “reform agenda” that the American public has witnessed in several sectors since the election, to varying degrees of success, but almost always with a huge price tag attached.
Truthfully, the seemingly not-so-exciting news that the MMS might be split is actually a microcosm of a greater progressive agenda and what happens as a result will be very worth attention because it could fundamentally change the way oil companies interact with government agencies.
Ultimately, what’s most interesting in this case, and is nearly unprecedented in this administration’s attempts at reform, is that there is a potential for real reform here and real minimizing of the inefficient bureaucratic red-tape that, more often than not, leads to oversight problems.
However, as has been reported, this does not appear to be the direction things will go as the hearing exchange between the Coast Guard and an MMS regional supervisor clearly outlines.
“It’s my understanding that [the blowout preventer is] designed to industry standard and it’s manufactured by the industry, installed by the industry, with no government witnessing or oversight of the construction or installation. Is that correct?”
“That is correct,” replied Michael Saucier, an MMS field supervisor for the Gulf.
Had government been allowed some oversight here, at least as far as this exchange would have one believe, this accident may have been preventable. Another $29 million and a brand new autonomous federal agency should be just the thing to cap the well. Smaller is sometimes really bigger.

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Friday linkage

Just some links for you, with little fanfare or comment:

Here’s what I’m listening to at this very moment. If it informs the link roundup, well, there it is…

From a friend. This has broken everywhere now but I saw it for the first time after he posted it, wondering aloud about the wisdom of keeping an account. I don’t know…it does speak to an uncomfortable level of hubris…

Good piece. I keep looking for a mention of “perspectivism” in here (sorry. inside joke…I know, hilarious.)

A guy I work with has this thing about Florida blotter news. So, here’s a daily dose for you.

Good piece. I have exactly the same questions myself.

Finally, because of a great conversation with the same friend re: facebook, here’s an image you might think you like for a minute. For a minute.

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First, I just want to say in response to the Kagen infamous softball photo that ran in the WSJ: it is very disappointing to me that reputable news outlets covered a story that I’m not sure wasn’t a total red herring originating in the White House to move the debate from the serious issues (and here) we should be discussing as regards Ms. Kagen (thanks Juje for the links). You took the bait kids (Politico and Fox News I’m looking at you) and made us watch. Um, thanks a lot…

Second, as usual, the blogger’s briefing was enlightening. Energy was the topic yesterday in preparation for the Kerry-Leiberman act, quietly released while our President was busy telling us about mending fences with Karzai. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain…

Anyway, this genius fellow, who looked not unlike Alfred Hitchcock, which made me instantly fall in love, spoke about a piece he recently wrote for The Weekly Standard and, to my mind, if you’re going to talk about energy, is a must-read. As one gentlemen at the briefing noted, he devoured the topic everywhere he saw it until he read this piece and discovered he had read the definitive work on the subject and quit looking for more. In any event, read this piece and then Kerry’s manifesto in HuffPo. Try not to get to mad…I think Kerry actually believes his own nonsense. Which means he’s willfully ignorant and not outright evil (sorry — a throwback to a discussion with the boss earlier…)

Mr. Hayward also handed out a list (it should be online soon and I’ll definitely post a link…) that shows just how big and damaging the most recent oil spill is in relation to all oil spills throughout the use of platforms and tanker technology. Let me save you the suspense: the current estimated damage comes in at number 68 on a list of 83. And the oil spilled, measured in metric tons, is significantly less than the most damaging preceding 67. But you’d never know that the way it’s being hyped as (hmmmm) a giant disaster just in time for discussion of offshore oil drilling and carbon markets and cap and trade…

Look, oil spills are bad. So is hyperbole to pass crap legislation. But I’ve said this before…

And finally, the FCC continues it’s quest to make some dough off regulating the internet. Best thing I’ve heard about this lately is that, while it can be compared to Obamacare in that it is like a public option for internet service, health reform was actually something needed and welcomed on some level. There’s no justification to regulate something and “fix” something that is not only not broken but that seems to be the one sector of the economy that remains somewhat immune to crazy market dips.

Now for the awesome. Thank you Facebook and Paste Magazine, for leading me here.

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