May 18, 2012

R.I.P. Turk Lurk

It is with sorrow that I must report the passing of The Turkey Formerly Known As Diego, aka Turk Lurk. He has been a resident of Goat Rope Farm for about four years now. He died of apparently natural causes, although romantic rivalry may have had something to do with it.

There was never a more ardent suitor when it came to the ladies, although he seemed to have trouble sealing the reproductive deal. It does appear, however, that at least two of the baby turkeys now bopping around the farm have his genetic imprint.

He was a really sweet, gentle, genial and tame bird. For years now, I have amused myself (and torment co-workers on conference calls) by exchanging endless verbal greetings with him.

May he be reborn in the Pure Land of Amida Buddha, where he can work towards ultimate enlightenment under the most favorable of circumstances.

BY WAY OF LINKS, here are two on the politics and reality of coal from Ken Ward's Coal Tattoo.


May 16, 2012

The buzzard wagon

Turkey vulture, by way of wikipedia.

It seems to be a custom of some of the longer road races and endurance events in rural WV to have emergency services on scene in case anybody has a medical meltdown. Sometimes, an ambulance follows the runners or triathletes.

This is probably good on humanitarian grounds and a good way of avoiding liability issues. But I can say from personal experience that slogging along in the back of the pack with an ambulance at your heels is not a self esteem builder.

It's kind of like having buzzards circle overhead.

NO TIME FOR LINKS TODAY. Maybe tomorrow.


May 15, 2012


One of the pleasures of blogging is occasionally getting reamed by people who read the stuff you post. I have a friend who is not shy at all about kicking my butt when she thinks I need it. In yesterday's post, I implied that it might be possible, with greater documentation, regulation, taxation and all that to make the Marcellus Shale natural gas boom something closer to a win/win situation.

My friend argues, not unconvincingly, that

There is no way we could come out better than lose/lose/win. And that's impact on the environment/local residents/drillers. Especially in WV where we will not get decent regulations.
She might be right. In fact, she probably is.

All I can say is that, to use a favorite metaphor of a friend of mine, the train has already left the station. I don't think it's possible to stop shale gas drilling right now. But, as some local citizens on the ground where the boom is occurring argue,  it might be possible to minimize the damage, improve practices, advocate for better regulation and taxation and all that, and to document what is happening.

I think the documentation--from health impacts to roads to taxes to air and water quality to  social cost--together with public education, is going to be critical to getting any kind of decent or even less bad outcomes out of this.

Some lines by Leonard  Cohen come to my mind (and they may have shown up here before):

"Everybody knows the dice are loaded/
everybody rolls with their fingers crossed
/everybody knows the war is over/
everybody knows the good guys lost."
But, as the eminent philosopher Tom Petty observed, "Even the losers get lucky sometimes." I don't necessarily believe that good is bound to prevail in the end, but I do believe that we live in an open and unpredictable universe where all kinds of things are possible and that, with luck, cunning, and technique, we might be able to make things a little better than they might have been for a little while anyway.

I'm not sure whether that makes me a pessimistic optimist or an optimistic pessimist.

READ MORE here and here.


May 14, 2012

The same river twice

I blogged a good bit last week about the big changes hitting those parts of West Virginia (and elsewhere) where the Marcellus Shale natural gas boom is taking place.

I went back up that way last week for the second time in 10 days and was amazed to find that some of the places I had just visited were unrecognizable. The pictures below provide an example. The first picture was taken on May 2. (How would you like to live that close to all that activity, by the way?)

The second picture was taken May 11.

(I think the big grey thingies are compressors for moving the gas through the pipelines.)

That's just one example. One place that seemed to be abandoned one week was a beehive of activity the next. One road blocked for pipeline construction was back in service and another was blocked. Drilling crews are highly mobile, as a fracking crews. It's basically a constantly changing landscape, which makes monitoring it and properly regulating it a real challenge. And monitoring it is an indispensable step in trying to reduce the negative impacts of the gas boom and make it more of a win/win proposition.

SPEAKING OF WHICH, NPR is doing a series on these issues this week. Here's one installment.

CHILD CARE.  WV leaders, after cutting corporate taxes by a hundred million or so, may slash child care assistance for working families.

AUSTERITY gets another whack here.

WHY REGULATE? Here's an example.

FIVE UNCOOL THINGS about life in the USA today are discussed here.


May 13, 2012

Herps R Us

While doing a little weekend gardening, we came across several guests of the reptile/amphibian variety. It's not every day you see a baby turtle.

These guys are a bit more common.

And I seem to remember a story about one of these in another garden...

Those are the ones we saw. I wonder what we missed.

SNAKES IN SUITS? Here's an interesting discussion of capitalism, morality  and the whole "the rich are different" debate.


IN CASE YOU EVER WONDERED how manta rays spend their time, click here.