Water thicker than oil

BP’s head honcho in Canada is a lady with the highly inappropriate name of Anne Drinkwater. She recently told a parliamentary committee hearing, prior to green-lighting her company’s exploratory drilling in the Canadian arctic, that she had no comparative data on the differences between US and Canadian regulations, but that she certainly thought the Canadian regulatory climate was too strict.   Can any regulation be too constraining if it prevents a zillion gallon oil spill? And after such a spill has already happened, can anyone with a sliver of conscience still call for less regulation? So, now that the flow is set to continue until August at a rate of one Exxon Valdez every ten days, maybe the people who regularly call for less government will begin to consider what that actually means in a world where an environmental disaster of simply awesome proportions can result from having a single early warning item dropped from the list of minimum standards. Faint hope, they’re too busy blaming the whole thing on environmental terrorists!

But in the oil spill department, other oil companies make BP look like Mr Clean. Shell and ExxonMobil are mismanaging dozens of similar spills in the Niger delta, confident that no one is looking. Whole towns and entire rural districts have lost their farmlands and go without drinking water down there, Mrs Drinkwater. Madam, your company could make a perfectly good living out of what leaks from Exxon and Shell’s wrecked and rusted infrastructure. Further proof, if any were needed, that Africa and Africans don’t count in the big picture, even though Nigeria provides the US with more than a third of its crude. Is this racism? Of course it is, but more of that later.

T-shirts and Tea-parties

Between the pouring of tea into Boston harbour in 1773 and the spewing of 20,000 barrels of crude per day, at least, into the Gulf of Mexico in 2010 as revenge, lies over two hundred and thirty years of British and US trading history. Hopefully the darkest chapter is being written now and things will improve, but I’m not betting on it. BP has taken a relatively tiny hit of 25 million on the markets but already gained 270 million in insurance and stands to gain much more, so there’s little chance they’ll change their ways. Disaster can be a winning business if you’ve got your risk well covered. Meanwhile a new Tea Party is shaking things up, banging on the empty chests of yesteryear to make a furious noise of precious little content. I have a motto for them: “Say nothing loudly”. I think there should be a comma somewhere.

My intention today was to address these matters in more depth, but as I was doing my research I got sidetracked by an old item about right wing bloggers slanging 11-year-old Malia Obama last summer for the heinous crime of wearing a peace symbol on her T-shirt. Apparently, wearing the peace sign puts you a single step away from prostitution, teen pregnancy and crack addiction … but only if you’re black. Any white teen could wear the diamond-encrusted bling version dressed in only a bikini without being subjected to such vitriol. All of the language used was blatantly racist with obvious sexual overtones (these guys don’t do innuendo). Methinks I hear the braying sounds of rutting KKK stags, strutting their pathetic, white, ante-bellum stuff in the backwoods again. Yet opinions like these are routinely voiced on sites that champion “freedom”, “patriotism” and “liberty”. I put all those expressions in parentheses because I would like to be able to use them again in the future without contamination.

Family values spring from the barrel of a gun

Sarah “drill-baby-drill” Palin was recently eulogized in Time magazine by a certain freedom-loving, family-values patriot by the name of Ted Nugent. Getting Nugent to highlight Palin and Palin to highlight Glenn Beck was a gloriously incestuous piece of irony from the editors, a way of saying: “Hey, we couldn’t find anyone else for the job!” For surely this is not that same NRA board member and rock’n’roll riff-merchant who used the ‘C-word’ when putting the Secretary of State in bed with Mr Castro and told the President to “suck on my machine gun” in front of an audience of thousands? Maybe Mrs Palin and her fellow towering lions of neo-con intellect, Limbaugh and Beck, all good buddies of Mr Nugent, could explain to us just what is so “patriotic” about threatening to assassinate your democratically elected head of state, or what is so family-valid about publicly humiliating his young daughter as Mr Beck also did recently in a teeth-grindingly hilarious (jeez these guys are funnier than a rubber crutch) oil-spill skit?

Ethics and the single oak

But hold on a minute: maybe I’m getting it all wrong. What if Iranian cleric Hojatoleslam Sedighi is right and unveiled women really do cause earthquakes? What if God really was punishing Haiti in divine retribution for voodoo? What if the peace symbol really is directly responsible for loose morals and drug use? What if this whole meta-meme Gaia business is even more complex than we thought? Then perhaps the plague of “Early Oak Death” sweeping the UK is in truth a direct result of Britain’s loss of those stoic qualities that once made it great. Now that the national character, if we believe the media, has become one of whining self-indulgence and the legendary stiff upper lip has given way to the very, very loose lip and the endless twitter stream, is it any wonder the national tree is turning up its roots and dying? Is it any wonder the country’s second richest company hasn’t the character to fully own up to, let alone pay for, its grievous technical and management mistakes? And is it any wonder they lied about almost everything? Big spills from little acorns grow.

Edwin Drood

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