Blaise Pascal
click on picture & scroll down


Wednesday, March 28, 2012


photo by Zena Halloway

My first grandchild is due in August.
My heart is torn.

So is Chip Ward's...

"We Screwed Up:
A Letter of Apology 
To My Granddaughter"

Dear Maddie,
I address this letter to you, but please share it with Jack, Tasiah, and other grandchildren who are yet unborn. Also, with your children and theirs. My unconditional love for my children and grandchildren convinces me that, if I could live long enough to embrace my great-grandchildren, I would love them as deeply as I love you.
On behalf of my generation of grandparents to all of you, I want to apologize.
I am sorry we used up all the oil. It took a million years for those layers of carbon goo to form under the Earth's crust and we used up most of it in a geological instant. No doubt there will be some left and perhaps you can get around the fact that what remains is already distant, dirty, and dangerous, but the low-hanging fruit will be long-gone by the time you are my age. We took it all.
There's no excuse, really. We are gas-hogs, plain and simple. We got hooked on faster-bigger-more and charged right over the carrying capacity of the planet. Oil made it possible.
Machines are our slaves and coal, oil, and gas are their food. They helped us grow so much of our own food that we could overpopulate the Earth. We could ship stuff and travel all over the globe, and still have enough fuel left to drive home alone in trucks in time to watch Monday Night Football.
Rocket fuel, fertilizer, baby bottles, lawn chairs: we made everything and anything out of oil and could never get enough of it. We could have conserved more for you to use in your lifetime. Instead, we demonstrated the self-restraint of crack addicts. It's been great having all that oil to play with and we built our entire world around that. Living without it will be tough. Sorry.
I hope we develop clean, renewable energy sources soon, or that you and your generation figure out how to do that quickly. In the meantime, sorry about the climate. We just didn't realize our addiction to carbon would come with monster storms, epic droughts, Biblical floods, wildfire infernos, rising seas, migration, starvation, pestilence, civil war, failed states, police states, and resource wars.
I'm sure Henry Ford didn't see that coming when he figured out how to mass-produce automobiles and sell them to Everyman. I know my parents didn't see the downside of using so much gas and coal. The all-electric house and a car in the driveway was their American Dream. For my generation, owning a car became a birthright. Today, it would be hard for most of us to live without a car. I have no idea what you'll do to get around or how you will heat your home. Oops!
We also pigged out on most of the fertile soil, the forests and their timber, and the oceans that teemed with fish before we scraped the seabed raw, dumped our poisonous wastes in the water, and turned it acid and barren. Hey, that ocean was an awesome place and it's too bad you can't know it like we did. There were bright coral reefs, vibrant runs of red salmon, ribbons of birds embroidering the shores, graceful shells, the solace and majesty of the wild sea...
...But then I never saw the vast herds of bison that roamed the American heartland, so I know it is hard to miss something you only saw in pictures. We took lots of photos.
We thought we were pretty smart because we walked a man on the moon. Our technology is indeed amazing. I was raised without computers, smart phones, and the World Wide Web, so I appreciate how our engineering prowess has enhanced our lives, but I also know it has a downside.
When I was a kid we worried that the Cold War would go nuclear. And it wasn't until a river caught fire near Cleveland that we realized fouling your own nest isn't so smart after all. Well, you know about the rest -- the coal-fired power plants, acid rain, the hole in the ozone...
There were plenty of signs we took a wrong turn but we kept on going. Dumb, stubborn, blind: Who knows why we couldn't stop? Greed maybe -- powerful corporations we couldn't overcome. It won't matter much to you who is to blame. You'll be too busy coping in the diminished world we bequeath you.
One set of problems we pass on to you is not altogether our fault. It was handed down to us by our parents' generation so hammered by cataclysmic world wars and economic hardship that they armed themselves to the teeth and saw enemies everywhere. Their paranoia was understandable, but they passed their fears on to us and we should have seen through them. I have lived through four major American wars in my 62 years, and by now defense and homeland security are powerful industries with a stranglehold on Congress and the economy. We knew that was a lousy deal, but trauma and terror darkened our imaginations and distorted our priorities. And, like you, we needed jobs.
Sorry we spent your inheritance on all that cheap bling and, especially, all those weapons of mass destruction. That was crazy and wasteful. I can't explain it. I guess we've been confused for a long time now.
Oh, and sorry about the confusion. We called it advertising and it seemed like it would be easy enough to control. When I was a kid, commercials merely interrupted entertainment. Don't know when the lines all blurred and the buy, buy, buy message became so ubiquitous and all-consuming. It just got outta hand and we couldn't stop it, even when we realized we hated it and that it was taking us over. We turned away from one another, tuned in, and got lost.
I'm betting you can still download this note, copy it, share it, bust it up and remake it, and that you do so while plugged into some sort of electrical device you can't live without -- so maybe you don't think that an apology for technology is needed and, if that's the case, an apology is especially relevant. The tools we gave you are fine, but the apps are mostly bogus. We made an industry of silly distraction. When our spirits hungered, we fed them clay that filled but did not nourish them. If you still don't know the difference, blame us because we started it.
And sorry about the chemicals. I mean the ones you were born with in your blood and bones that stay there -- even though we don't know what they'll do to you). Who thought that the fire retardant that kept smokers from igniting their pillows and children's clothes from bursting into flames would end up in umbilical cords and infants?
It just seemed like better living through chemistry at the time. Same with all the other chemicals you carry. We learned to accept cancer and I guess you will, too. I'm sure there will be better treatments for that in your lifetime than we have today. If you can afford them, that is. Turning healthcare over to predatory corporations was another bad move.
All in all, our chemical obsession was pretty reckless and we got into that same old pattern: just couldn't give up all the neat stuff. Oh, we tried. We took the lead out of gasoline and banned DDT, but mostly we did too little, too late. I hope you've done better. Maybe it will help your generation to run out of oil, since so many of the toxic chemicals came from that. Anyway, we didn't see it coming and we could have, should have. Our bad.
There are so many other things I wish I could change for you. We leave behind a noisy world. Silence is rare today, and unless some future catastrophe has left your numbers greatly diminished, your machines stilled, and your streets ghostly empty, it is likely that the last remnants of tranquility will be gone by the time you are my age.
And how about all those species, the abundant and wondrous creatures that are fading away forever as I write these words? I never saw a polar bear and I guess you can live without that, too, but when I think of the peep and chirp of frogs at night, the hum of bees busy on a flower bed, the trill of birds at dawn, and so many other splendorous pleasures that you may no longer have, I ache with regret. We should have done more to keep the planet whole and well, but we couldn't get clear of the old ways of seeing, the ingrained habits, the way we hobble one another's choices so that the best intentions never get realized.
Mostly I'm sorry about taking all the good water. When I was a child I could kneel down and drink from a brook or spring wherever we camped and played. We could still hike up to glaciers and ski down snow-capped mountains.
Clean, crisp, cold, fresh water is life's most precious taste. A life-giving gift, all water is holy. I repeat: holy. We treated it, instead, as if it were merely useful. We wasted and tainted it and, again in a geological moment, sucked up aquifers that had taken 10,000 years to gather below ground. In my lifetime, glaciers are melting away, wells are running dry, dust storms are blowing, and rivers like the mighty Colorado are running dry before they reach the sea. I hate to think of what will be left for you. Sorry. So very, very sorry.
I'm sure there's a boatload of other trouble we're leaving you that I haven't covered here. My purpose is not to offer a complete catalog of our follies and atrocities, but to do what we taught your parents to do when they were as little as you are today.
When you make a mistake, we told them, admit it, and then do better. If you do something wrong, own up and say you are sorry. After that, you can work on making amends.
I am trying to see a way out of the hardship and turmoil we are making for you. As I work to stop the madness, I will be mindful of how much harder your struggles will be as you deal with the challenges we leave you to face.
The best I can do to help you through the overheated future we are making is to love you now. I cannot change the past and my struggle to make a healthier future for you is uncertain, but today I can teach you, encourage you, and help you be as strong and smart and confident as you can be, so that whatever the future holds, whatever crises you face, you are as ready as possible. We will learn to laugh together, too, because love and laughter can pull you through the toughest times.
I know a better world is possible. We create that better world by reaching out to one another, listening, learning, and speaking from our hearts, face to face, neighbor to neighbor, one community after another, openly, inclusively, bravely. Democracy is not a gift to be practiced only when permitted. We empower ourselves. Our salvation is found in each other, together.
Across America this morning and all around the world, our better angels call to us, imploring us to rise up and be as resilient as our beloved, beautiful children and grandchildren, whose future we make today. We can do better. I promise.
Your grandfather,
Chip Ward

TomDispatch - HERE

My Thanks to Chip

"Our better angels call to us,
Imploring us to Rise Up...
Our salvation is found in each other,


Tuesday, March 27, 2012


"Orion‘s search for a more truthful relationship 
between humans and the natural world 
occasionally calls for the expression of outrage.
The more we learn about a gas-drilling practice 
called hydraulic fracturing—or “fracking”—the more we see it 
as a zenith of violence and disconnect, 
impulses that seem to be gathering on the horizon... 
like thunder clouds."

"Here, on top of the Marcellus Shale, along the border between Pennsylvania and New York—where we are surrounded by land leased to the gas industry; where we live in fear that our water will be ruined, our mortgages called in, our teenage children killed in fiery wrecks with 18-wheelers hauling toxic fracking waste on our rural, icy back roads; where we cash out our vacation days to board predawn buses to rallies and public hearings; where we fundraise, donate, testify, phone bank, lobby, submit public comments, sign up for trainings in nonviolent civil disobedience; where our children ask if we will be arrested, if we will have to move, if we will die, and what will happen to the bats, the honeybees, the black bears, the grapevines, the apple orchards, the cows’ milk; where we have learned all about casing failures, blow-outs, gas flares, clear-cuts, legal exemptions, the benzene content of production fluid, the radioactive content of drill cuttings; where people suddenly start sobbing in church and no one needs to ask why—here in the crosshairs..."
Sandra Steingraber 

"No right way is easy. . . .
We must risk our lives to save them."
John Muir, Sierra Club’s founder

The Steingraber Family

"Dear Sierra Club,

I’m through with you."
"The Sierra Club had taken money, gobs of it, from an industry that we in the grassroots have been in the fight of our lives to oppose. The largest, most venerable environmental organization in the United States secretly aligned with the very company that seeks to occupy our land, turn it inside out, blow it apart, fill it with poison. All for the goal of extracting a powerful heat-trapping gas, methane, that plays a significant role in climate change.
"Climate change: identified by The Lancet as the number-one global health problem of the 21st century. Children, according to the World Health Organization, are among its primary victims."
"The path to salvation lies in reparations—not in accepting praise for overcoming the urge to commit the same crime twice. So shutter your doors. Cash out your assets. Don a backpack and hike through the gaslands of America. Along the way, bear witness. Apologize. Offer compensation to the people who have no drinkable water and can’t sell their homes. Whose farm ponds bubble with methane. Whose kids have nosebleeds and mysterious rashes. Write big checks to the people who are putting their bodies on the line in the fight to ban fracking, and to the grassroots groups that are organizing them."

"Finally, go to Washington and say 
what the Sierra Club should have said in 2007... 
Fracking is not a bridge to the future. 
It is a plank on which we walk 
blindfolded at the point of a sword. 
There is no right way to do it. 
And the pirates are not our friends."

The Orion Blog
Breaking Up with the Sierra Club
March 23, 2012, by Sandra Steingraber


Great Thanks to Sandra Steingraber...
I can think of no one more dedicated to protecting our children.
I can think of nothing more important than that.

Please read all Sandra's previoius writings in Orion:

Oh, a storm is threat'ning
My very life today...

It's just a shot away...

Saturday, March 24, 2012


"Throughout human history, 
the apostles of purity, 
those who have claimed 
to possess a total explanation,
have wrought havoc 
among mere mixed-up human beings."
Salmon Rushdie

"And Caesar's spirit, raging for revenge, 
 With Ate by his side come hot from hell, 
 Shall in these confines with a monarch's voice 
 Cry "Havoc!" and let slip the dogs of war, 
 That this foul deed shall smell above the earth 
 With carrion men, groaning for burial."
Shakespear,  Julius Caesar

Dogs of war and men of hate
With no cause, we don't discriminate
Discovery is to be disowned
Our currency is flesh and bone
Hell opened up and put on sale
Gather 'round and haggle
For hard cash, we will lie and deceive
Even our masters don't know 
the webs we weave

Até...come hot from hell
Greek Goddess 
Evil and Misfortune

Tuesday, March 20, 2012


"The gated individual,
scholar, artist, media pundit and celebrity - 
walled off 
from growing impoverished populations - 
are also cut loose from any ethical mooring 
or sense of social responsibility."

Gated Intellectuals and Ignorance in Political Life
by Henry Giroux in Truthout


"A group of right-wing extremists in the United States would have the American public believe it is easier to imagine the end of the world than it is to imagine the end of a market society."

"Neoliberalism or market fundamentalism as it is called in some quarters and its army of supporters cloak their interests in an appeal to "common sense," while doing everything possible to deny climate change, massive inequalities, a political system hijacked by big money and corporations, the militarization of everyday life and the corruption of civic culture by a consumerist and celebrity-driven advertising machine. ...this deceptive strategy does more. It also substitutes shared responsibilities for a culture of diminishment, punishment and cruelty. The social is now a site of combat, infused with a live-for-oneself mentality and a space where a responsibility toward others is now gleefully replaced by an ardent, narrow and inflexible responsibility only for oneself."

"The gated intellectuals, pursuing their flight from social responsibility, become obsessed with the privatization of everything. And not content to remain supine intellectuals in the service of corporate hacks, they also willingly, if not joyfully, wage war against what is viewed as the ferocious advance of civil society, public values and the social."

"The gated intellectual works hard to make thinking an act of stupidity, turn lies into truths, build a moat around oppositional ideas so they cannot be accessed and destroy those institutions and social protections that serve the common good. Gated intellectuals and the institutions that support them believe in societies that stop questioning themselves, engage in a history of forgetting and celebrate the progressive "decomposition and crumbling of social bonds and communal cohesion."

"Gated intellectuals do not work with ideas, but sound bites. They don't engage in debates; they simply spew off positions in which unsubstantiated opinion and sustained argument collapse into each other."

"The gated mentality of market fundamentalism has walled off, if not disappeared, those spaces where dialogue, critical reason and the values and practices of social responsibility can be engaged. The armies of anti-public intellectuals, who appear daily on television, radio talk shows, and other platforms, work hard to create a fortress of indifference and manufactured stupidity."

"Instead of the gated intellectual, there is a dire need for public intellectuals in the academy, art world, business sphere, media, and other cultural apparatuses to move from negation to hope." 

"If gated intellectuals defend the privileged, isolated, removed and individualized interests of those who decry the social and view communal responsibility as a pathology, then public intellectuals must ensure their work and actions embody a democratic ideal through reclaiming all those sites of possibility in which dialogue is guaranteed, power is democratized and public values trump sordid private interests. Democracy must be embraced not merely as a mode of governance, but more importantly, as Bill Moyers points out, as a means of dignifying people so they can become fully free to claim their moral and political agency."

And the Angels that warned me...

"so i wish i was under a tree
far away from society
where the only truth in me
is the soothing sound of my own entity
while my other voice is free
it expresses words of plea
to return to a stable form of reality
but i'm inside of that tree
that tree is inside of another tree
the perplexity is infinity
so i will just chill with a spliff"

Nothing left to do...
I am one man...
Waiting, out in the cold

Things are in the saddle...

Saturday, March 17, 2012


Pandora's Box - Serban Rosca

"The oil industry is muscling through 
pro-drilling legislation by tying it 
to appealing tax cuts and education bills."

"The situation is harrowing."

The Fracking Trade-Offs
David Sirota in Salon


"Of all the political tactics used to protect business interests, none is as powerful as the layer ploy — the one in which an ugly corporate giveaway is hidden one layer beneath something popular. It’s the oldest trick in the book: Offer up Mom and apple pie, and few are likely to notice the noxious serving plate."

"...this is the way some of the most corrupt policy has become law in recent years. It’s also the way oil and gas business allies are now advancing that industry’s interests in the face of proof that drilling may be endangering Americans’ health."

"...many communities are trying to slow the drilling boom. That has created a serious problem for oil and gas companies, who want to drill as much and as quickly as possible. So their political allies are working to tie drilling to Mom-and-apple-pie initiatives as a means of crushing any opposition.

"...his (Kasich)  new tax moves are really designed to help drillers overcome any grass-roots opposition — in this case, by tying drilling’s expansion to alluring tax-cut policies. In the vernacular of political sloganeering, Kasich is basically saying, “Drilling for Tax Cuts.”

"In Colorado, where 343 oil and gas spills occurred in 2011, the oil and gas industry’s mantra is a bit different: It’s “Drilling for Kids,”...the governor-appointed land board has been able to push the deal forward and stymie tougher regulations by insisting that oil and gas exploration will help schoolchildren."

"As the industry’s “drill, baby, drill!” mantra butts up against more science-based opposition, be on the lookout for this same layer ploy in every state. It’s at once enticing and deceptive — but when that platter of Mom and apple pie is inevitably served up, try to remember what the dish is made of."

Words are failing us...
Adjectives are failing us...
"...raging, disgusting, dishonest, lying, vile, foul, putrefying, stinking, loathsome, hateful, detestable, reprehensible, abhorrent, awful, heinous, odious, vile, low, mean, abject, shameful, ignominious, shabby, ignoble, disreputable, discreditable, destructive, nasty, disagreeable, horrid, horrible, dreadful, obnoxious, odious, unsavory, repulsive, distasteful, nauseating, sickening, monstrous, evil, iniquitous, depraved, debased, reprehensible, godawful, lousy, scurvy, wicked, contemptible, nefarious, despicable, deplorable, debased -- another hundred or thousand -- you could line up and digest together into a peristalsa toward the asshole to convey the level of assholery the guy represents. I admit it: I don't have the words... 
They, and those like them, are the scum that floats to the top of a pond of scum and gets scum on it."
Syd Schwab

Pull the Blinds...
Change Their Minds

In All Directions...
Storm Clouds Are Gathering


Friday, March 16, 2012


Why the hyrdrocarbon boom?

Natural Born Drillers
Paul Krugman in the New York Times


"To be a modern Republican in good standing, you have to believe — or pretend to believe — in two miracle cures for whatever ails the economy: more tax cuts for the rich and more drilling for oil."

"More and more, Republicans are telling us that gasoline would be cheap and jobs plentiful if only we would stop protecting the environment and let energy companies do whatever they want."

"...tells readers that America as a whole could have a jobs boom, just like North Dakota, if only the environmentalists would get out of the way."

"The reality is that far from being hobbled by eco-freaks, the energy industry has been given a largely free hand to expand domestic oil and gas production, never mind the environment."

"The comparable-sized (to North Dakota) fracking boom in Pennsylvania has had hardly any effect on the state’s overall employment picture, because, in the end, not that many jobs are involved."

"Why, then, are Republicans pretending otherwise? Part of the answer is that the party is rewarding its benefactors: the oil and gas industry doesn’t create many jobs, but it does spend a lot of money on lobbying and campaign contributions." 

"And intellectual bankruptcy, I’m sorry to say, 
is a problem that no amount 
of drilling and fracking can solve."

Never thought I'd feature a Krugman essay in this blog, but...

Word Up Paul !!

(BTW - It's not only the Republicans)

Don't you know?
You're going to Shock the Monkey

Too much at stake
Ground beneath me shake
And the news is breaking

Storm Warning


Monday, March 12, 2012


It's Fracking Important!

"This year's National Groundwater Awareness Week 
may be the most important in it's 13 year history."

Inquirer Ariticle - HERE



Saturday, March 10, 2012


“People of Pennsylvania have seen this before 
from coal, from steel. 
This state is used to getting hosed. 
The people have to say, 
‘We’re not going to be your playground.’”

Cuomo and Corbett Ignore 
Health Concerns From Gas Fracking
"In the face of official calls for “future studies” of how high-volume hydro fracking might affect human health, states like Pennsylvania and New York have avoided these issues.
"In Pennsylvania, Gov. Tom Corbett and the Republican political establishment have eagerly embraced fracking, touting its economic benefits and downplaying its possible health consequences. Corbett’s 52-member advisory panel on Marcellus Shale drilling has no members with health expertise, according to a recent analysis by professors at the University of Pittsburgh’s School of Public Health. (Neither do advisory panels on gas drilling for the state of Maryland and for the U.S. Secretary of Energy.)
"New York State, which is poised to allow high-volume hydro fracking of shale formations as soon as it completes its final rules, has rejected repeated calls for a thorough study of the health implications of fracking."

DC Bureau Article - HERE

Natural Gas Drilling Began...
"...neighbors noticed that their well water began to smell. Then came the headaches, skin lesions, and diarrhea, in household after household. A two-year-old dog fell over dead."
“We’re talking about little children that have nosebleeds, cats that fall off windowsills,”
"Some experts are concerned that the chemical make-up of the witches brew used to force gas from rock is at the heart of these health problems."
"...future studies should explore “all the ways people can be exposed, such as through air, water, soil, plants and animals.”
"Typically, the subject animals suffered death or reproductive problems after drinking water from contaminated wells, ponds or streams. Humans suffered from burning of the eyes, nose and throat, headaches and dizziness, rashes, vomiting and diarrhea. In one case, a boy missed a year in school due to an illness that was attributed to poisoning from arsenic, a common ingredient in frackingflowback."
"...drillers have been known to compensate owners for animal deaths or illnesses in exchange for their legally binding silence."
"...seen patients complaining of nosebleeds, rashes, headaches and fatigue, among other symptoms."
"...many of the wealthier, more educated local residents who have health problems are suing gas companies. Generally, the poor who are sick – many of whom live within 1,000 feet of a compressor station or an open frack pond – are fending for themselves because state and local health officials seem overwhelmed."

This is how an angel dies...

Maybe I should cry for help...
Maybe I should SAIL

Words are failing us...failing me...
I am way beyond beside myself...
This is all... way beyond everything
out in the cold