Friday, September 30, 2005

War and Piss

Browsed through the newish bookshop in Norwood yesterday. Nice selection. Picked up Norman Mailer’s The Armies of the Night for fifteen bucks. Against the author’s splenetic revulsion at “the frustrated bile, piss, pus, and poison he had felt at the progressive contamination of all American life in the abscess of Vietnam” our blogger notes – with gratitude and lancing irony – how things have changed.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Crude Awakening

Accept for one moment that the petroleum industry is a force for good. Not an unalloyed good, of course, but what is? For the world to progress, for society to advance and for industry to develop, it is necessary to provide a steady and constant source of fuel. This powers technology and innovation, driving new vision, expanding the horizons of possibility, transforming the fantastical into the everyday. Challenges of capacity, of ability, challenges which appeared insurmountable are one by one obliterated. With new technologies come new fields of industry and commerce, new opportunities to broaden and to diversify the channels of trade, to augment, to accumulate and to broaden personal, national and global capital. New types of expertise, new areas and opportunities of education, new candidates for education. Advances in medicine and communication, farming and entertainment, all underpinned fundamentally by the fuel of industry. Books become more accessible, whiskey more plentiful, cars in each driveway, a chicken on every wok.

Drilling, refining and transporting petroleum products directly affect the environment in many places and communities around the world. It indirectly affects everyone, to some or other extent. The consumption of these products too affects all the world. But the executives tell us they are sensitive to this, that they are working in the most environment and person friendly way possible. They assure us that there is no alternative and that this is the small price we pay for progress. Let’s accept this. Why not? Some of the oil companies even have started their own campaigns to promote the cleaner and more efficient use of fossil fuels. Some think that this is nothing but slick marketing, a smog screen against rising popular resentment, and hard scientific evidence of the deleterious effects of these industries. But accept that this view is glib and unfair. Suppose rather that the oil industry, while long the source of progress, is now the guardian of a new, more just and moral progress. That the light of industry had become the authentic bearer of the torch of honourable development. And accepting all this, let us marvel as the captains of progress descend on Johannesburg for the 18th World Petroleum Congress.

But how on earth do we accept Halliburton as a sponsor?

Monday, September 05, 2005

Street Sweeper

Infinitely repeatable lope of a sax loop makes the pavement lighter, bulletproof flows change t-shirts into kevlar, reverberating crunch turns rap kids nostalgic at age 23, it's Bucktown.