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Power To The People. September 16, 2012

Posted by littlebangtheory in Politics and Society.
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I’m a big fan of renewable energy, a believer in climate change as a byproduct of human activity, and a charter member of the Small Is Beautiful school of going forward into the future.

Hey, I’m little, what can I say?

Anyway, my town hosts the Berkshire East ski area. It’s about the main thing happening here in winter, we being without a large tax base, and they recently erected a wind turbine which sits across the river and up the hill from my house, and purportedly generates enough power to account for the entire B’East operation.

As a guy who spent a long winter making snow at said enterprise, I can attest to the amount of power involved in a snow making operation – pumping a lake’s worth of water to the top of that mountain every night, then blowing it through airplane props at high psi’s, and with high voltage lines powering it all. It’s a much longer story than that, but that’s what’s relevant to tonight’s post.

Berkshire East has a new project going up on their mountaintop, parked perilously at the line dividing Charlemont from the town of Hawley. I’m sure its location makes things politically messy, but I hope it navigates those shoals to form a more perfect union of form and function and of local entities taking care of their own needs.

The solar farm being built atop Mount Institute:

The Berkshire East wind turbine is visible above the notch in the trees near the right edge of this photo.

This is a major commitment of previously forested land to local production of energy, and doesn’t fall below my radar of environmental impact. But if you’ve seen real life images from “mountaintop removal” mining in West Virginia, this is definitely the kid-glove version of power production.

Plus, it’s local, meaning that energy doesn’t have to be transmitted from a great distance at a considerable loss.

I know, I’ve barely scratched the surface in talking about this incredibly complex problem, but I’m leaning hard toward local production of power, and on a scale which doesn’t necessitate the involvement of mega-national corporations, though the big players do indeed weasel their bad selves into these local projects.

At any rate, I’m a firm believer in doing things locally in so far as they’re practical, and not taking Corporate America’s appraisal of the situation at face value. Whenever we’re told that something “can’t be done like that, not on that scale,” we should identify the source of that viewpoint and be aware of how such statements serve their financial interests.

And when there are things which benefit us all and can’t be done on a small scale, I posit that We The People ought to pool our resources through the mechanism of Government to do them collectively.

It isn’t Socialism, folks – it’s civilization.

More Breaking News: Josh Fox, “Gasland” Director, Arrested! February 2, 2012

Posted by littlebangtheory in Politics and Society.
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OK, some of you are familiar with the independent film, “Gasland,” directed by anti-hydro-fracking activist Josh Fox.  For those of you who aren’t, it’s a scathing expose of the hazards inherent in the Natural Gas Industry’s latest technology “advance,” which involves pumping a high-pressure slurry of chemicals into horizontally branching deep wells for the purpose of fracturing shale formations and holding those fractures open while Natural Gas is extracted.

There’s sooooo  much wrong with this process that I could write volumes on it, but others with the knowledge and numbers have done it before (i.e., “Gasland”  director Fox,) so I’ll get right to the point made in this post’s title:  Joshua Fox was taken away in handcuffs from a House subcommittee hearing on hydraulic fracturing which he was recording (filming,) ostensibly for “lacking the proper credentials” to film the proceedings.  This despite his Herculean efforts to secure those “credentials,” this despite the fact that uncredentialed Congressional staffers  were recording the proceedings on their iphones all around him, this despite the fact that these hearings are OPEN TO THE PUBLIC AND ROUTINELY RECORDED/FILMED, this despite the First Amendment’s prohibition on curtailing freedom of the press.

And this despite the fact that no one has ever  been arrested for “uncredentialed” filming of sub-committee hearings without first causing a significant disruption to those proceedings.

What followed Mr. Fox’s removal, according to witnesses present, was a vicious attack on the EPA by Subcommittee Chair Rep. Andy Harris (R-MD) and industry shills who want their viewpoint and only their viewpoint  to reach the American people.

My friends, this is not about jobs, it’s not about “energy independence,” it’s not about National Security, though the Corporate Whores on Capitol Hill will try to sell us that bullshit.  It’s about Corporate Profits in the age of Citizens United.   And an informed populace ought to know that our rural landscapes, our local control over the use of our lands, and the safety of our drinking water  are being compromised for the benefit of the Filthy Fucking Rich.

The Corporate Giants who now own “our” government expect us to ignore this, to take our cultural cues from the M$M, to turn on American Idol and tune out the scourge of environmental devastation and obscene profiteering being visited upon us by multi-national corporate behemoths.

I, on the other hand, expect at least some  of you to sit up and take notice, to not be asleep at the wheel as our Ship of State takes a hard right turn toward the dangerous shoals of corporate profits at the expense of public safety, the health of our children, and the integrity of our efforts to protect our natural world for future generations of both humans and our fellow travelers on this fragile sphere.

Learn everything you can about this very controversial (and I believe very dangerous) practice, and get involved.  See Gasland,  and when it comes out this summer, Gasland II.   Read everything you can find about what’s being done and what’s happening to the people and places where Hydraulic Fracturing is already taking place.

Then call your “elected” representatives in government and let them know where you stand.

It’s not just important – it’s essential to the survival of our children and the world we’ll leave them.

Occupy All Streets. November 17, 2011

Posted by littlebangtheory in Politics and Society.
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Tonight, in the tiny neighboring hamlet of Shelburne Falls, there was a bit of a commotion:

It was a candle-light vigil commemorating the two-month anniversary of Occupy Wall Street.  About a hundred people turned out to support the message being proffered by Occupy movements nationwide.  They lined our central Steel Bridge with signs and candles:

Lock up the children, them Dangerous Radicals are out to getcha!

This was a gathering of local folks, farmers and carpenters and teachers and small business owners, young folks and retirees and everyone in between, who share a common perception of what’s ailing us as a society.

And in case you’re chained to a couch and enslaved by a TV feeding you Corporate Bullshit, their message was anything but vague and scattered:

The sign on the left reads, “Remember when teachers, public employees, Planned Parenthood, NPR and PBS crashed the stock market, wiped out half our 401K’s, took billions in taxpayer-funded bailouts, spilled oil in the Gulf of Mexico, gave themselves billions in bonuses and paid no taxes?  Yeah, me neither!”

Channeling Tengrain, are we?

Despite the fact that we’re not totally down-and-out in these parts, we’re feeling our Nation’s pain.  Recent floods have cost many local towns money they don’t have, our schools are sucking a dry bone for funding, everyone’s financial security in retirement is in jeopardy, and the hope which used to spring eternal is drying up faster than the Australian Outback:

The young lady holding this sign opted to be cropped out when I disclosed the sordid fact that I threw occasional F-bombs when I discussed politics.  So much for this being a movement powered by anarchists!

So the take-away from this night of community action is that We The People are getting it.  We know we’re being taken to the cleaners by those who have far more than they need to live The Good Life, but somehow feel entitled to still more, even as the working folks on whose shoulders they lounge are losing their jobs and homes.

The Occupy movement may or may not take a chill pill as winter renders its venues less hospitable, but God help the 1% when the Spring thaw comes ’round!


Standing At The Window. March 25, 2011

Posted by littlebangtheory in Politics and Society.
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You always loved this time of year.  The promise of Spring, the chance at last to throw open the window and just stand there taking it all in, the warmth of the sun on your face incongruously mingling with the cool breeze playing through your hair.  The impossibly blue sky presaging the Summer of your life, full of hopes and dreams and opportunities, the air lightly scented with snowdrops and daffodils and the sounds of  children playing…

But today is different.  Today, this 25th day of March, you’re standing at the window, standing in the window, with the sun on your face feeling like ice compared to the searing heat at your back, the furious inferno of friends and fabric clawing at you like a rabid red Cerberus, the sounds of children crying in the street below swallowed by the roar of the flames, the shrieking of women and steel and God and the blood rushing in your ears, the molten air filling your lungs with the acrid smell of burning wool and bone and your own singed hair, and through tears of pain and anguish you look up to see the red flames and the white smoke and the dirty blue sky, and you lean forward, not by choice but because there is  no choice, and follow your hopes and dreams and broken promises to the crushing pavement eight stories below.

One hundred years later, we’re standing in that window, all of us, whether we acknowledge it or not, lured out onto a parapet of false promises, driven ever closer to the abyss of withered aspirations and diminished dreams.  We have a choice, or so we’re told, of sucking it in and making sacrifices for the “common good,” of working more for less pay, of peeling back our benefits, of giving up the rights our Sisters died for, our Brothers fought for, our Parents demanded…  or we can cling stubbornly to our Unions, our Workers’ Rights, our expectations of safe conditions, our delusions that we deserve to retire with dignity and some small measure of financial security, and watch the Captains of Industry take their factories overseas where reasonable people are just grateful to have jobs,  places like Malaysia and Bangladesh where corporate assets aren’t troubled by safety and environmental regulations, where injured or sickened or just plain overworked employees can be discarded and replaced by anonymous hands and backs beyond counting.

We know they’ll do it.  Hell, they have done it.    Just look at the empty factories littering the American Dream-scape, then look at the fine print on the products you buy, the labels on your clothes.  Supply-side economics holds that it makes great sense to manufacture our shirts in Bangladesh, where just this past December dozens of women jumped to their deaths from their burning high-rise garment factory because the exits were locked.

One hundred years later, people, and what have we learned?

We’ve learned that individuals may be powerless in the face of Corporate greed, but great congregations of workers are not.  We’ve learned that if we don’t demand  to be treated fairly and decently, we will be treated as expendable chattel.  And we’ve learned that Government Of the People, By the Corporations, For the Filthy Rich is complicit in the auctioning off of the American Dream.  The hard-won rights our parents and grandparents scraped together and cobbled into a life worth living are being pried from our hands with assurances that it’s for our own good, that it’s the only way our economic system can compete, that if we don’t capitulate we can kiss our jobs and our dreams and our futures goodbye.

In truth, the problem is not just with a culture of corporate greed and exploitation, with “fiduciary duties” paraded as an excuse for sucking workers dry, but with a system of government in which spineless, self-serving Corporate Whores craft legislation and loopholes which fatten the purses of their Patrons at the public’s expense.

Modern multinational corporations are beyond the reach of reason, separated at birth from their hearts and consciences, blinded by the vision of uncountable profits, their greed metastasizing into a frenzied feeding on the hands which turn our wants into their widgets. Our arguments on behalf of Noblesse Oblige fall on ears deafened by the Siren song of Fiscal Fundamentalism.  We appeal in vain to a sense of decency which we wrongly believe must be in there.

But it’s not in there.

No, my friends, if salvation from unbridled greed and uncontrolled consolidation of wealth is to be ours, we must wrest it from those who are charged with representing us, but who are pressed hard to accept the filthy lucre showered on them by their corporate keepers.  We need to see the problem clearly, to speak the truth loudly, to do the daunting deed of rallying our Brothers and Sisters to the cause of interdependence, of mutual respect, of standing together with arms interlocked lest we fall, one by one, through the window of opportunities lost.

United we stand; divided, we are all tottering on that terrible parapet.


Thanks to Tengrain over at Mock, Paper, Scissors for the writing prompt, and for his frequent support of my humble efforts.

A Relic Of Another Time. January 25, 2010

Posted by littlebangtheory in Politics and Society.
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Taken a short while back, this black and white image of an old truck captures its essence better, I think, than the color version which previously appeared here:

Something about this old work horse is so proudly defiant as to cause tears to well up in my eyes, perhaps because it predates the brilliant capitalist inception of Planned Obsolescence, the cornerstone of en vogue economic theory and, in fact, the world as we Westerners know it.  This beast/beauty was built to last, and last it shall, beyond the conceivable life spans of so many vehicles a generation its junior.

Despite knowing that The Future is hurtling at me unchecked and unvetted, I find myself longing for the days when sustainability held sway over  the cancerous growth of economies and the viper’s bite of corporate hegemony.

And so it goes, and so it goes.