Pity the fool

July 28th, 2010 § 5 comments § permalink

One CEO runs Company A, which provides an essential—however unpopular—resource to the general populace, whose daily lives rely on the continual, efficient performance of the company. In trying to fulfill its difficult role, Company A underestimates an indeterminate risk, resulting in a disaster. Though the CEO had little or no direct decision-making role in the circumstances leading to the disaster, he owns up to the mistakes and takes the heat, like any good CEO would do.

Meanwhile, the CEO of Company B, whose purpose is to exploit the world’s disadvantaged for the benefit of a privileged few, approves tens of billions of dollars to be spent on a systematic mass murder, without any outward remorse or personal culpability.

The employees of both companies perform a stressful and dangerous job. Company B’s employees, though exploited by their CEO, are called heroes by the public while many of Company A’s are put out of work thanks to a hasty and dubious decision made by—of all people—the CEO of Company B. The public has little sympathy for Company A’s dismissed workers.

And despite it all, it’s CEO A that a frothing public—led by CEO B—thinks is the bad guy.

No, Tony, life is not fair.

Global weirding

July 27th, 2010 § 0 comments § permalink

In case you missed it, we had a 100-year storm on Saturday:

Anyone wanna bet we get another one before August 2110?

Black people care about the environment like this, and white people…

July 27th, 2010 § 0 comments § permalink

This morning on my way into work, I caught part of a Tom Joyner Morning Show interview with Newsweek reporter Raina Kelley, who talked about becoming a Freegan for 30 days for a feature story.

I’d imagine the entire interview is good, but I found one question particularly interesting. Kelley was asked why she thinks African Americans are perceived to be less concerned about protecting the environment than white people. She believes it’s primarily a matter of negative characterizations of black people as violent, deviant, etc. I would agree this is part of it, but as a bona fide Sheltered White Suburbanite, I’d put a number of stereotypes ahead of that. Namely:

  1. Black people have real problems to worry about. Because they are more likely to be impoverished, to have an incarcerated relative, or to know a homicide victim, black people don’t have the luxury of seeking angst in abstract causes.
  2. For most white people, environmentalism is motivated by image more than genuine concern for the planet. Because white people can take for granted their acceptance by mainstream society, they’re free to jockey for status based on cause affiliation.
  3. Black people are more likely to live in urban, industrial environments with less exposure and access to natural ecosystems.
  4. White people, having enjoyed the splendor of the western industrial lifestyle more than black people, feel more guilt and personal responsibility for environmental peril.
  5. White people have more disposable income and purchasing options and can therefore make “greener” purchases at relatively little cost.
  6. Black people are more likely to live in unhealthy or undesirable environments already and therefore have less to lose if environmental catastrophe lowers our standard of living.

Kelley may have brought up any number of these points later in the interview, but I haven’t finished listening to it.

All your dubious product claim are belong to us

July 20th, 2010 § 0 comments § permalink

A few weeks ago, the power at my work went out, so yesterday everyone in the office got emergency flashlights. Now if the power ever goes out again, we’ll have a misplaced item to look for.

Anyway, this is the back of the box:

Here is a happy American-looking family on the front of the box:

I admit that it gives off pretty good light, but I have to wonder how much the lead paint intoxication couteracts the memory-boosting powers of the squeezing action.


July 8th, 2010 § 0 comments § permalink

A running joke in my business, infrastructure management, is that a city’s sewers don’t get fixed until there’s shit backing up into the mayor’s basement.

Here is much funnier version of that joke. Here is a woman that seems especially amused.

I’ve been reluctant to express opinions on The Gusher due partly to my ignorance, partly to empathy for my engineer brethren, but mostly to my fatalistic attitude toward risk and blame.

the spending mismatch between petroleum and the environment is huge. The amount committed by the international community towards cleanup and environmental protection in Nigeria is 6 times smaller than what’s spent on the oil industry, and over 13 times smaller than the cost of the Deepwater Horizon cleanup

I do think this comparison may be unfair. Yes, there is a spending mismatch, but there is also a situational mismatch. One huge gushing source is much different from the diffuse and gradual leakage that’s occurred in the Niger Delta.

Diffuse problems are always more difficult to remedy, and often, money is not allocated to these problems because there just isn’t a whole lot that can be done, regardless of how much is spent. I have no idea whether that’s true in this case. My hunch would be that it’s partly true though. The oil companies’ biggest fault probably isn’t in pinching pennies on cleanup efforts but in shoddy upkeep of their facilities in the Delta—negligence more than callousness.

None of this is to deny that sunny, commerce-rich Gulf Coast has more powerful guardians than marshy, low-GDP Nigeria. Country Club Boulevard always has it’s potholes fixed before Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, but that’s a problem contained to a local human population. Unfortunately the coastal ecosystem only knows that it needs its wetlands and doesn’t particularly care how much the restaurants charge for crawfish.