December 15, 2011

This and that

It's disappointing but not surprising that the WV legislature passed a gutted version of its Marcellus Shale bill aimed a regulating the new natural gas boom at the behest of Governor Earl Ray Tomblin.

Holy "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it," Batman!

ON THE BRIGHT SIDE, the WV Board of Education passed an anti-bullying policy that explicitly protects gay and lesbian students. That ought to give a couple religious right groups something to howl at the moon about.

WINDOWS AND MIRRORS. If you are in the Charleston area today and tomorrow (that would be Thursday Dec. 15 and Friday Dec. 16) come check out "Windows and Mirrors," a traveling art exhibit about the war in Afghanistan. It will be shown at Mountaineer Good News Garage, 221 Hale Street, from 5-8 tonight and from 10-2 on Friday. Here's coverage about it from the Gazette and the West Virginia News Service. Or you can read all about it here.


December 12, 2011

Of haikus, public hearings, rhetoric and zombie brains

Sometimes, working within a restricted format promotes creativity. Think of haiku for example. There rules are pretty strict--5, 7, 5--but you can come up with all kinds of things.

Sometimes I think testifying at public hearings in the WV legislature is similar. You don't get a lot of time to make your point; sometimes you just have a minute. Some speakers barely get through trying to establish their bona fides or street cred before time runs out.

Public hearings are weird things in WV politics. Sometimes they are like consolation prizes for bills that are going to die. At least they give supporters a chance to rant. Always, they are political theater.

The latest example came Monday during a public hearing about the Marcellus Shale natural gas bill. By way of background, a joint committee of the legislature came up with a pretty good compromise bill. However, Gov. Tomblin announced that he wanted to "tweak" the bill and bring it before a special session of the legislature. To a lot of people concerned with surface owners' rights, the environment and such, Tomblin's idea of tweaking was more like gutting.

Hence the pubic hearing. The oil and gas industry brought in people from all over the state, but in the end critics of the "tweaked" version outnumbered industry supporters.

I attended the public hearing but didn't plan to testify until I was told that numbers mattered this time. I agreed to do it, but only because I was able to come up with a one minute metaphor. It went something like this:

A good Marcellus Shale bill is like a four legged chair. One leg should promote local jobs for local workers. Another should protect surface owners. The third should protect the environment and especially water, which will probably be the oil of the 21st century. The last and perhaps most important leg should protect the people of West Virginia by ensuring that this won't be another time when the social costs get passed on to citizens and taxpayers while the profits leave the state.

I don't know whether that made sense to anybody else but I value the practice of trying to cook a message down to the shortest, stickiest and most memorable form (whether I get there or not). I guess that's why I'm a sucker for public hearings these days.

ZOMBIES ON THE BRAIN. So my daughter (yes, the one with the advanced degree) is still mulling over the possibilities and prospects of a zombie apocalypse. She sent me a link to this CNN item on zombie brains today.

Again, I'm not sure whether to laugh or cry. Or threaten to eat her brains...


Have knee will travel

After spending the summer with a blown out knee and part of the fall with one recovering from surgery, it is so nice to have a leg back. I can kick again, although I'm still not at 100 percent in that department.

The best part is the ability to run again. But first let's clarify the meaning of that word as there seems to be some confusion there. Often people have told me that they've seen me out there walking. I try to explain that what looks like walking to them is running to me. I maintain that running is subjective: if you think you're running and it feels like you're running, then you are regardless of speed.

I'm hoping now to build up speed to the point where I can hold and maintain a respectable pace for several miles. Yesterday I met a pace goal at a 5K. I hope to keep that pace at a 5 miler in January and then a 10K in February, although that will mean a lot of interval training between then and now. If that happens, who knows? Maybe a half marathon or the Charleston 15 mile distance run in the summer.

It's not that I enjoy such events at the time. I hate them. But it feels pretty good to have just finished one.

THE D-WORD discussed here.

RATS have empathy; why doesn't the 1 percent?


BANKING ON COAL. Here's a connection between Wall Street and a warming planet.