Hurry, Hurry, Hurry
I only had time to type out a couple of pontifications this morning. So there aren’t any pix or other images. If I have time later, I’ll plug them in. If not, you’ll live.
Just wondering: Now that merely drinking a glass of water in the city of Charleston, West Virginia, might make a thirsty soul sick as a dog, is there anybody out there in this holy land who still thinks the EPA is an undue federal gov’t intrusion on our freedoms?
See, coal is king in W.Va. And as such, that state’s legislatures, executive mansion, and regulatory agencies are in thrall to the coal tsars. So, say, if some 30-year-old Charleston woman with a couple of kids needs someone to guarantee that coal operations won’t dump poisons into her family’s drinking water, can she really, honestly trust her state’s watchmen and -women?
The Environmental Protection Agency was created to try to prevent the machinery of our modern society from, well, killing us. Air, water, and soil pollution were threatening to become intractable back in the late 1960s. Big city stone skyscrapers looked black after years of being shrouded in smog. Lake Erie was virtually dead. Strip mining, soil erosion, and clear cutting were radically transforming the nation’s topography.
Now, I’m under no illusion that the four decades since the birth of the EPA have brought us a fresh, sparkly Garden of Eden. Nor do I believe federal officers from the agency itself are immune to the pressures and lures of big business, for whom dumping poisons is nothing more than a nasty necessity in the pursuit of dollars. And, clearly, too many — far too many — US Senators and Representatives are in the pockets of big biz.
Still, the mere existence of the EPA is another needed weapon in our battle against the desecration of our corner of the planet. Lake Erie is no longer dead. The nation’s big cities all have significantly cleaner air. We, using the power of the EPA, have cleaned things up a bit.
West Virginians are being told to keep their taps shut for the time being. They’re also being told to watch for signs of skin irritations, nausea, vomiting, and wheezing. The people around Charleston all drank, bathed, and brushed their teeth in water tainted by something called 4-methylcyclohexane methanol (MCHM), 7500 gallons of which spilled from a storage tank near that city’s water treatment plant.
Might a more active federal overseer have denied the placement of a poison storage tank so close to a water filtration plant? Maybe. Maybe not. But the odds would be much better than counting on W.Va. regulators to do so, considering that this MCHM stuff is a key component in the production of coal.
BTW: the company that owns the poison storage tank that began leaking Thursday? It’s called Freedom Industries.
Freedom, my ass.
How To Win While Losing
I’ve made myself clear regarding my feelings about the Olympics.
I hate them.
They’ve long ago outlived their usefulness. Each Olympic sport stages its own world championship every year, except for the Olympiads. So athletes on an annual basis can brag that they’re the tops in their fields. It’s not as though nobody knows who the fastest miler when the Olympics aren’t being staged.
Add to that the seemingly irresistible lure each Olympics offers to those who are convinced the quickest, most efficient way to improve this world is to blow up a bunch of innocent folks.
The amount of money spent on building venues and Olympics villages is astronomical. And few can argue that host cities get an equitable dollar return on their investments. I know that my beloved hometown was prepared to parlay a combined municipal, state, and private bankroll totaling billions to entice the International Olympic Committee to stage the 2016 games in Chi.
Money, BTW, that the Chicago Public Schools might have used to keep some neighborhood schools open. Or that the city itself might have directed toward warding off its looming bankruptcy.
Back to the sports themselves, too many of them don’t at all lend themselves to real competition, you know, where objective goals like scoring more goals than the other team or jumping higher, running faster, or lifting more weight than one’s competitors makes you the champion.
When a sport depends on the athlete’s choice of music for her or his solo performance, or, worse, how many spangles and bangles her or his costume dangles, it’s closer to a beauty contest than a physical trial.
Again, not that figure skaters, for instance, aren’t athletes. They are. Only how does one choose the best figure skater in the world?
We know know how one chooses the best miler in the world. She’s the runner who crosses the finish line first.
The US this weekend held its competition to determine the best figure skater here. Usually, the medal winners in that contest go on to the Olympics for that year. Makes sense, as much as anything having to do with judging figure skaters can make sense.
Anyway, the big favorite to go to Sochi this year was Ashley Wagner. She once ranked fourth in a world competition and, apparently, is a popular skater who’s expected to draw tons of viewers to NBC’s coverage of the Sochi Games. Only she had to skate the weekend in Boston to earn her spot on the team.
She went out on the ice — and promptly fell down twice.
In case you didn’t know, falling is frowned upon in the figure skating world.
It’s the equivalent of the clean-up hitter striking out with the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth of a tie game. It’s like a running back fumbling at the goal line. In short, it’s bad news.
Accordingly, three other skaters finished ahead of Wagner when the judges votes were tallied. Again, normally, those three would go to the Olympics. Sadly, one of them won’t.
That’s because to USOC tabbed Wagner to go anyway. Mirai Nagasu, who finished third, wept openly on the medal stand yesterday, having already learned she won’t go to Russia.
I suppose Ashely Wagner is prettier than Nagasu. More TV camera-friendly. A bigger draw, meaning bigger ad revenues for NBC.
The Olympics. Silly.