An Idle Word: A column
by BILL CUNNINGHAM
I started to title this column “Did You Miss Me?” after an absence of three weeks. But considering that that the readers’ comments would probably be a resounding “No!” I demurred in favor of something more topical.
At the time I began my absence, the news media was filled with “All Michael Jackson All the Time” (it’s now down to 75 per cent of the time) so naturally I thought about joining in the fray but my wife sagely advised me,” What are you going to write that hasn’t already been said?”
Besides, I kind of missed the whole Michael Jackson thing over the last two or three decades, just as I’ve done with John and Kate and all reality shows (except for true crime of course).
A week off was nice—particularly with no financial penalty—and before I knew it my absence from the blogosphere had stretched out so I decided it was time to get back to The Mercury.
But what to write about? Well the whole city council prayer deal had raised its head again which was where I came in, but as an ACLU member and Saint Matthew Christian who sees nothing wrong with public prayer (we had it to start class everyday when I was a kid and look how I turned out—no comment required), was pleased to see some resolution with the rabbi at Tuesday’s council meetings and the promise of more diversity to come.
Then there was the Springtown controversy with solid arguments on both sides resulting in true San Marcos style with no room for finding common ground and the possibility of an abandoned shopping center at the city’s entrance (does anyone else remember the “Scotch tape” store at the mall skits in the early years of Saturday Night Live).
Then there were the Lyndon LaRoche disciples blocking the entrance to the Post Office with their pictures of Obama as Hitler and placards warning his health care plan was being designed to help Wall Street billionaires. But I gave up trying to understand those folks years ago when they labeled the Queen of England as the mastermind of worldwide drug trafficking.
So I finally fell back as both an excuse and topic we all are talking about—the heat.
I remember the quaint days of about a decade ago when there was still talk of regular climate changes in the earth’s history so don’t be an alarmist. You know, back before polar bears on shrinking ice floats began finding their way to Sewell Park.
No, I think global warming is all too real. And being the cock-eyed pessimist I am, I’m not at all sure there’s anything we can do about it.
Yes, I know President Obama has brought in some of the country’s sharpest minds to address the issues and many of the nation’s largest corporations have jumped on the bandwagon, realizing that in a great American tradition, that’s it’s a good marketing tool.
But what America can do is only so much in today’s “flat world” economy.
With its boom in the world’s economy, China has built a multitude of coal-burning plants to fuel manufacturing. I saw a picture of the exterior of one of them on the front page of the New York Times several months ago and began scanning the landscape of the village fronting it to see if I could find John L. Lewis trying to organize workers.
India with its mass of humanity, most of whom have been too poor to travel on anything other than bicycles, now has come up with automobile priced at about $2,000 American money. I doubt much of their costs went into emission controls.
It’s strikingly ironic that China is now the proud producer of that symbol of environmental (not to mention aesthetic) depravity—the Hummer.
Much closer to home, I read in today’s newspaper (I still read those) about the nasty battle developing in the Hill Country about LCRA’s plans to build transmission lines to bring wind generated power from its West Texas wind farms to its consumers.
It will be interesting to see what happens as the issues of “clean energy” and “NIMBY (Not In My Backyard”)— both hallmarks of the American environmental movement — clash.
Already the Kimble County Commissioners Court has passed a resolution asking that no power lines be run through their county but Mason County instead. You think maybe the Mason County commissioners will respond with a resolution of their own?
Not even that great Hill Country diplomat Kinky Friedman—who ran for Justice of the Peace in Kerrville with a slogan of “He kept us out of war with Fredericksburg”—may be able to resolve this one.
(In the interest of full disclosure, I should report that the I was a consultant to LCRA in the late 90’s on their marketing/lobbying efforts to promote it wind power as part of what became the 1999 Utility Restructuring Act and require utilities to include a portion of renewable power as part of their energy portfolios.)
So even as this country responds to a changing energy perspective, it is clear that the solutions will still face “NIMBY” and other hurdles that have become traditional in recent years.
This is not to mention that in dire economic times, many Americans will probably be looking more towards having money left over after paying their utility bills then what the folks in 2222 will have to look forward to. Hence, the recent stories about the failures of Austin’s Green Energy program.
Given issues like this, it’s going to take a lot more than trendy solar powered parking meters to solve what the future holds.
It’s almost to dreary to contemplate so I think I’ll just submit this and head to the post office to check my mail and hear the common refrains there about the heat.Email | Print