Lack of compass


But in recent decades, local Boy Scout councils around the nation have ordered clear-cutting or other high-impact logging on tens of thousands of acres of forestland they own, often in a quest for a different kind of green: cash.

A Hearst Newspapers investigation has found dozens of cases in which the scouts ordered the logging of prime woodlands or sold them to big timber interests and developers, turning quick money instead of seeking ways to save the trees.

My internal cynic smartass’s immediate thought a mere two paragraphs into this well-worth-the-read article in today’s San Francisco Chronicle / was: “well, it’s nice to see that at least they don’t discriminate regarding which trees to hack down.”

It didn’t even enter my mind that BSofA representatives would deflect responsibility for an apparent pattern of poor environmental stewardship choices by blaming teh gay. I nearly fell off my chair a couple more mere paragraphs into today’s article:

At times, the scout councils have logged or sold wild properties that had been bequeathed specifically for use as scout camps.

In some cases, councils have sought revenues from logging or land sales to make up for funding lost because of the organization’s controversial bans on gays and atheists.

“The Boy Scouts had to suffer the consequences for sticking by their moral values,” said Eugene Grant, president of the Portland, Ore., Cascade Pacific Council’s board of directors. “There’s no question” that the Scouts’ anti-gay, anti-atheist stance has cost the organization money, he said. As a result, he said, “every council has looked at ways to generate funds … and logging is one of them.”

Catch that? The poor victim has to resort to irresponsible land management at odds with best practices and with its own stated conservation-minded values because of teh gay.

Unbelievable. No whiff of recognition that the organization alone and itself chose the path toward just rewards as a result of its discriminatory policies, and that it is alone responsible for loss of support. And on top of that, it’s apparently because of teh gay that it chooses to barter away its stated conservation principles in exchange for cold, hard cash.

Discrimination is fine, and values are fungible. That’s some nice behavior modeling, fellas.


idgit galoot

A couple nights ago, watching News Hour, a segment on Obama’s decision to revisit the Bush-era EPA refusal to grant state air quality waiver to California (and how that may impact the auto industry) stuck under my craw and began to fester immediately. It’s taken me nearly two days to figure out why.

Of the two guests for the segment, one was a smarmy little prig who looked far more the part of high school junior varsity football team equipment manager than editor for automotive publication editor he actually presented himself to be. Evidently, being apologist for a dinosaur of an industry is far more of a qualification for magazine editor than, say, intellectual honesty or jounalistic integrity for a top job in car-related publishing these days.

Anyhow, his argument against granting California (and several other, mostly eastern states, watching the regulatory process in hope of following CA’s lead in ratcheting up mileage standards) the EPA waiver is twofold:

1) New technology takes time to develop. Hey, thanks for the news flash. The industry whose collective hoohah up into which your nose appears planted has chosen to ignore decades worth of lessons on the political destabilization of oil dependence, same for increasingly refined global climate science regarding the impacts of fossil fuel consumption. Cry me a river. The auto industry has had plenty of time, you’ve pissed the lion’s share of it away. Evolve or perish, asshat.

2) Efficient cars are not the cars that people want. Build them, no one will buy them.

And THAT is the one that really frosted my cheese. Let’s talk about the matter of what the average American wants.

What Do we want? And why do we want it?

There’s nothing about the desire for an oversized, inefficient, wasteful vehicle that arises organically as a necessary extension of the human condition. This quickly can go well beyond the automobile. The large majority of what passes for our modern economy is served by our collective role as “consumers” chasing after things to respond to wants that exist in our minds thanks to the manipulative magic of advertising. Manufacture the need, then build and sell the magical device that meets that need. End of story.

I’m not advocating end of choice. I’m not suggesting it’s bad to want, and therefore to acquire, things that we don’t necessarily need. But I’ve had it with the intellectual dishonesty of the auto industry as they justify their foot-dragging refusal to get with the program for far too long. If the average American doesn’t currently “want” a smaller, lighter, more-efficient, less powerful car, maybe it’s because the industry hasn’t done a damn thing to invest any thought and energy into presenting them as desirable.

But let’s just stop pretending that the “wants” of the “consumer” are naturally and organically arising human drives, shall we? People buy what they’re told to buy because they’re bombarded with the message that they need to buy it repeatedly until they give in. Perhaps that dynamic might be channeled to more productive ends for a change.

everything’s coming up milhouse

First this:

The former US Senator and Northern Ireland envoy George Mitchell has been appointed as Middle East envoy by new US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

I’m a very biased, and very proud native central Mainer, but that aside, this is a fantastic choice. Obama’s rolling out the A team early—this is a very clear (and I suspect to be globally well-received) signal that the new administration is serious about diplomacy. This is adults taking over.

Now this: Lagunitas Brewing Company’s “Hairy Eyeball” has just made its seasonal return to local shelves.

So long as the universe is tossing out happy surprises today, I’d be thrilled if a mid-40’s vintage Conn 10M tenor would magically appear on my doorstep.

Or a peanut butter cookie would work just fine. No drama.

The intersection of Christina’s world with my own

I feel compelled to note the passing of Andrew Wyeth, who reports indicate died in his sleep overnight.

More than knee-deep knowledge of the fine arts is not a strong suit of mine. But I happened to come upon an awareness of Andrew Wyeth and his work pretty early in life. Among the parents’ book collection when I was very young was a hard-cover, first edition coffee table-style compilation of his paintings, a body of work that even upon the 60’s era release of the nearly-too-hefty-for-my-spindly-arms-to-heft tome spanned decades. I would flip through it now and then—completely unaware that many of these works were created on the coast of my native state of Maine—and would contrive to glean some manner of the stories behind his tempera revelations.

In years since, the subset of visual 2D art that speaks most clearly to me leans in more abstract if not altogether absurd directions to the detriment of nurturing any awareness or interest in more realistic approaches to the application of paint to canvas. Wyeth always stuck with me though, especially after, as an older kid, I learned both of his significance and of his ties to Maine. I certainly recall the splash made by the mid-80s’ release of his Helga series, garnering extensive media attention and (if I recall correctly) the cover of Time magazine, a rash of buzz no doubt fueled in part by some of the semi-titillating personal details of the lives of artist and model during the several years bracketing the development of this extensive series.

Arguably his best-known work, Christina’s World (included in our household’s collection mentioned above) was always especially compelling. Eventually I’d learned that the title subject was a young woman beset by polio. Years ago, on a trip to New York, I went to MOMA and saw the actual painting. As it turns out, at the same time, I was in the employ of a large industrial facility a mere few miles up the road from the Cushing, Maine location of the house that appears in the background.

That was a very challenging time in my life, personally and professionally. Upon several occasions, I’d treat myself to a short drive down this particular mid-coast Maine peninsula, and would ponder my various roadblocks. And Christina’s.