Hot Air: Baking & Burning


The great pleasure of doing Big Talk is meeting some of the most wonderful and fascinating people in town. Cristian Medina is one of them. He’s a research scientist at the Indiana Geological and Water Survey where he and his colleagues are trying to figure out ways to lasso the carbon dioxide gas produced by the burning of fossil fuels. Medina et al hope to scrub the gas, turn it into a pure stream and maybe — just maybe — inject it into the subsurface of the Earth where it can be stored in reservoirs in sedimentary rock layers.

Cristian Medina

Medina admits this solution isn’t the best one — hell, there may be unforeseen side effects should the scheme ever go into practice — but, for pity’s sake, something’s got to be done to stop the ongoing baking of the atmosphere. An even better solution, Medina says, would be an all-out effort to get our energy fix from renewable sources like the sun, the wind, and geothermal. But even a dreamer like Medina is savvy enough to know we’re not going to make that commitment any time soon so we’d better figure out an alternative remedy now, before St. Paul, Minnesota, turns into Nairobi, Kenya.

Besides trying to save the rest of us from cooking ourselves to death, Medina, a native of Chile, is a tireless volunteer around town, pitching in at WFHB where he used to be host of ¡Hola Bloomington!; showing up weekly at Mother Hubbard’s Cupboard, and serving as president of the Bloomington Indiana Scholastic Chess Club. Dang mang, he even used to cook up big pots of food and lug them over to People’s Park and Seminary Square to help feed the homeless. And that ain’t all he’s been up to hereabouts since his arrival a little more than ten years ago.

My advice to you is click on over to the podcast of yesterday’s Big Talk for my interview with him. I’m telling you, these Big Talks are just the tonic to counteract all the bad news  we who haven’t drunk the Li’l Duce Kool-Aid™ have had to endure the last couple of years. Even better, click on this link for my written profile of him in the Limestone Post.

And why should I even be telling you about the Post piece? You oughtta be reading the online mag regularly in the first place, dig?

Hacking Their Way To Freedom

Did you catch this one the other day?

The guy who came up with the old Virginia Slims ad slogan, You’ve come a long way, baby!, died last month. Those of us of d’un certain âge remember those hip, kicky cigarette ads celebrating the modern female who, by golly, could smoke as many daily packs as any man, damn it!

The adman’s name was Pat Martin and he worked for the Leo Burnett agency in Chicago. He penned the line 50 years ago, in 1968, that landmark year. The message may seem weirdly antediluvian today but you have to keep in mind that women, even well into the 20th Century, could be jailed for dragging on a square in public.

Adman Pat Martin

Considering the fact that our traditionally male-dominated society has, for millennia, relegated females to one of two categories — mother or whore — breaking rules and having sex long have been two prime avenues for our sisters to demonstrate something akin to self-determination. And puffing on a slender smoke from a pastel pack surely was a liberating experience, a breaking of the rules, for many women in those benighted times.

Sure, yeah, we now know cig smoking is one of the worst sins a human can commit against her/himself. That fact was sort-of known back in ’68; the Surgeon General’s Warning was only four years old at that point. Common sense will tell you that inhaling the smoke from a burning substance on an hourly-or-more basis will surely bode ill for your overall health but smoking was still seen as a statement of adulthood, of legal majority, a half century ago. Women rightly figured if it was okay for men to walk around all day enshrouded in a nicotine fog why couldn’t they?

Not all assertions of personhood or liberty are pure and above critique. My sis, for one, took to dragging on a Virginia Slim now and again around 1970, a time when she was discovering her own independence, her own agency. I wouldn’t say the act turned her into an Eleanor Roosevelt or Malala Yousafzai but the Slim and the puffing thereon were things she could call her own. Prior to that, she neither owned nor was anything other than what a certain patriarchy had conferred upon her.

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