environment, whatnot

The Heart of Oil

It’s a tricky situation, but the gist of it is this— Exxon still hasn’t fairly compensated the people it hurt when the Valdez poured between 10.8 and 30 million gallons of poison into the Alaskan coastline on March 24th 1989. Exxon has various silly reasons for saying they don’t have to pay the people affected by one of the most destructive environmental disasters in history. Mostly they’ve said it was an accident and that they paid to clean things up and they think that is enough.

If a kid plays with matches in a field and accidentally burns a farmer’s entire crop, would cleaning the coals and paying for the seed be enough? Probably not. Imagine the farmer tried to get fair amount of money from that kid, and the kid responds that he has paid a lot already for the seeds, but you know that his parents have chipped and the amount that it cost him has been exaggerated a bit. Who do you feel sorry for? The kid or the farmer? Imagine now that while the farmer tries to get the kid to pay a fair amount he puts that amount in the bank. Imagine that the interest he makes on that money, the money that people agreed is owed to the farmer, has already doubled, but the kid just won’t pay.

exxon oil bird Today the Seattle PI reported that courts say Exxon doesn’t have to pay the $5.4 billion that was awarded to the people hurt by their mistakes. The reason is that there are new rues about caps for punitive damages. Exxon has said it payed enough, but insurance and, tax write offs have reduced their losses. The $5.4 billion Exxon owes folks has been set aside earning interest, most folks think the interest has exceeded $5.4 billion by now.

Exxon is coming out of the storm with a scratch, the people who depended on the natural resource that they completely screwed up are missing limbs. Ten percent of those who should have been compensated have died, that is how long this fight has been going on. Children born after the spill are preparing for college.

If you want to see the heart of oil, a heart that still beats at the same cold pace today, look no further than this. Fault has never been clearer, indifference to harm caused couldn’t be less stark. The question is will we learn to hear this twisted heart’s pumping elsewhere?

[tags]big oil, environment, exxon, oil, oil spills, valdez[/tags]


Goodbye Poetry Bus

On Friday I saw the end of what I saw the beginning of. Or put in a nicer way, I saw the last Poetry Bus reading. It was great! The reading was in two parts, the first being a subscriber event (to thank them for their financial support which makes things like the bus tour possible) and the second was open to the greater public. The first reading was shorter and featured the much appreciated open bar, the second reading was longer and featured the much despised cash bar. But that didn’t ruin my fun by even 0.5%

The space needle has two levels, the top one is the one where you are in the disk-looking thing that is visible in the skyline all over the Seattle. The second level is about a third of the way up and while not nearly as high has amazing views nonetheless. Imagine walking out of an elevator and looking out over the bay just as the orange sun is finally falling below the very distant mountains. Beautiful oranges and reds reflecting off the water, the buildings all silhouetted with tiny glowing windows. Mountains in the distance looking almost like ghosts. It was a very nice sight.

The readings happened well after the sun had set but (thanks to light pollution, which is a mixed blessing) there was still a view. It was wonderful to hear all these great poems and have these sox-knocking views all at the same time.

The readers were amazing, I really can’t say anymore than that. Afterwards people hung out on the bus and it was also very great. Bill, the bus driver, played blues on his guitar as people hung out— he also read at the space needle. Apparently Bill’s become a poet himself. That is what I think the poetry bus is all about.

[tags]poetry, poetry bus, space needle, wave books[/tags]