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Guns Now More Than Ever

If you have to ask, you’re not ready for the answer

Nuns with gunsIn the early 90’s I often rode my bike through a nondescript suburb of San Diego County. The journey included a tiny piece of La Mesa’s landscape that stood out among the green lawns and modest homes; a bumper sticker declaring, “Guns Now More Than Ever.”

I watched this message cycle by at 20 mph, and laughed every time it caught my glance. Marveling at the moxie of such a bizarre statement, I almost felt sorry for this lonely idea. Calling desperately for the embrace of its fuzzy, provocative premise, the little idea thoughtlessly assumed a large audience would feel no need for questions.

Guns don’t point at rational appeal

Perhaps the very attempt to decipher this cryptic calling precludes any deductive grasp of its intuition. If you seek a logical explanation for “Guns Now More Than Ever,” then you’re bound to miss purpose in its passion.

Like your world view

Like your sophisticated political views?

After all, any true believer knows better than to ask why God allows countless massacres. Common sense inquiries touching on atrocity reveal wimpy resolve, dooming tests of faith to failure for dry-humping the foul temptress of Reason.

Besides, blind faith will not prejudice the M16 over the AR-15, or show deference to the AK before the M1A, for all assault rifles stand equal in the eyes of God. Hallowed be thy name and hollowed be thy round.   

Military assault rifles dehumanize good old fashioned murder

WWI changed the face of war through innovations in weapons technology. Tanks, submarines, mustard gas, grenades and automatic rifles joined forces in our very first War to End All War, championing wholesale death at a distance.

Let's celebrate life in the cross hairs.

Let’s celebrate life in the cross hairs.

Machine magic took the fuss out of genocide to carpet whole countrysides in the stench and miasma of rotting flesh. Soldiers slogged through scabby earth that oozed in a nightmare theater where waddling rats claimed victory.

Today, military grade assault rifles continue this inventive celebration of life in the crosshairs through pinpoint accuracy, super light composite frames, semi-automatic chambering, massive ammo clips, specialized rounds, and convenient modification to automatic fire.

While these weapons are a hit in any American warzone, they’ve begun to take a terrible toll on our civilian morale.

Murder deserves a name, a face, and a grudge

We must return to simpler times when homicide promised a very personal experience. We needed a plan, preferably inspired by righteous vendetta born of rape, physical abuse, perceived slight, or haste to enforce Omertà.

We took care in choosing the time, the place, that perfect rock, an unbreakable garrote, a hefty club or balanced sword. We hated our prey, or at least held their heartbeats as obstacles to selfish goals. And our twisted truth makes sense of mournful death when killers make personal calls for payback.

We watched the eyes of our victims grow blank, sometimes in visceral satisfaction, other times with remorse and emptied bowels. And once in a great while, we even dispatched a bastard who bloody well deserved his execution. Naturally, we took care to hide our crimes.

Wasting life should never waste its meaning

Traditional killers care how you die.

Traditional killers bring panache to your departure.

We relish the sweet taste of revenge, whose savor turns from cold to bitter when served inside bars or gas chambers. Even sociopaths, who enjoy killing as a way of life, value their own mortality through commitment to outlast enemies and innocents alike, one body at a time.

Successful slayers treat assassinations like any procedural issue, and work tirelessly to wipe away gore and fingerprints, cut up corpses, and establish an alibi. No self-respecting predator would press muzzle to temple and splatter grey matter just to escape crime scene drudgery, or to avoid imaginative tales of his whereabouts. Only sissies and crazy people drop the hammer on that kind of nonsense.

Military grade assault rifles have transformed group slaughter into a carefree point-and-click process, guaranteeing double-digit send offs, igniting white-hot news trends that bleed and lead throughout our 24 hour cycle. Sure, we nest in a modern democracy, but mass murder has never seemed easier or cheaper outside of Syria.

Gun Control Atheists refuse to believe in the existence of compromise

I see, the lack of guns remains the root cause of gun violence.

Yes, the absence of guns remains the root cause of gun violence.

The Washington Post reckons the overall number of bangers in the U.S. at about 270 million, while other guesstimates climb as high as 350 million and beyond. Statistically speaking, we’ve got a gun for just about everyone.

Of course in the absence of assault rifles, an enterprising psychopath can always equip his rampage through our traditional arsenal of privately owned and perfectly legal lead launchers sanctioned by our Second Amendment:

A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.

We have gobs of grease guns, piles of pistols, and roomfuls of rifles to choose from. And double-digit headcounts won’t come as quickly to killers who have to pull the lever on a Winchester, steady a hand with revolvers, or rack and reload their 12 gauge pump-action problem solver.

Resurrecting the ban on military assault rifles won’t bring back the dead, but it could save lives by making wholesale butchery a pesky, time consuming chore.    

Relax; America will always be #1 with guns

Our history, economy and culture have honored ventilators for centuries, beginning with the arrival of European settlers, muskets and mayhem. British soldiers and pilgrims joined forces with Mohegan and Narragansett allies to terminate pro-Dutch members of the Pequot Nation opposed to Puritan expansion. New England’s first major regional squabble became known as the Pequot War of 1637.

Later, the English issued a range of arms to American provincials, including British Long Land muskets, carbines, civilian rifles, and fowlers to kill the French and their savage allies during the French and Indian War (1754–1763), in constant battle for colonial domination of North America.

Patriots favored Long Land muskets to ambush Loyalists with single and grape-shot volleys during the American Revolutionary War (1775–1783). Indian Nations looked to civilized weapons for homeland security East of the Mississippi during the American Indian Wars (1775–1842), killing Anglo-American invaders who squatted beyond the borders of their newly proclaimed United States.

Brits allied with American Indian Nations, issuing Brown Bess Flintlocks to repel Yankee aggressors during the War of 1812. Most Patriots know nothing about Her Majesty’s disastrous bid to confine American land ownership to cemetery plots, as Anglo insurgents encroached on vast Indian realms rightfully stolen by British Commonwealth. Free from contest with England for lands belonging to Indian Nations East of the Mississippi River, pioneers and the federal government then set their sights on new Indian Wars West of the Mississippi (1811–1924) to clear the way for Manifest Destiny and the Wild West.

America rules the world in guns per capita.

America rules the world in guns per capita.

Mexicans wielded pistolas to kill Gringos in the 1840’s following the annexation of a backwoods bramble called Texas. Mexican patriots depended on the .753 caliber British Brown Bess or Tower-type musket, purchased used and on the cheap from England, to field a worn out standard weapon. I’d like to offer a special shout out to the Mexican–American War for New Mexico, and especially for Alta California. After 165 years I still feel like a winner!

The War Between the States unified our nation’s love for blasters

Civil War exploded in the 1860’s. Johnny Reb, Billy Yank, and all their kin took aim at anybody fool enough to don the blue or grey. Colt, Smith & Wesson, Gatling, and Winchester have since taken up residence in our popular vocabulary and homes.

Guns don't kill if you can't get to them in time.

Guns don’t kill if you can’t get to them in time.

Lethal relics stand proud and polished as museum pieces. Meanwhile, newer descendents fill private collections, nap under pillows, and hide under beds. Their safeties may be on, but their chambers stay loaded for bear. And why not? Bad guys don’t come knocking for polite conversation to borrow a cup of patience.

If you have shaky fingers, and the time to unlock a safe, remove a trigger guard, and slip in a clip, then you have time for a beating, or worse. Guns don’t kill… when you can’t get to them in time. Take this truth on faith or take it on the chin.

These same manufacturers, who supplied sidearms and rifles to the War of Northern Aggression, have thrived selling wares to our unified South. On the brighter side, thanks to this fracas that began with Harper’s Ferry, Daniel Day-Lewis will become the 1st to win a 3rd Oscar for Best Actor through his role in “Lincoln.”

Looking out for #1

Maybe it’s time to loosen our grip on so many cold, dead hands.

Enough retrospective. We all agree that arms inhabit America’s origins, constitution and soul. The United States began its difficult birth of a nation with more rifles and sidearms than cold dead hands to grip them.

And we’ve never looked back. Gats find guts and glory in bygone times, and constant rebirth in our movies, books, liquor stores, drive-bys, target ranges and shootouts. Guns and the damage they do are here to stay. Author, Phillip J. Cook, sums up our love/hate friendship with firearms through a quote from his landmark study on crime and public policy, Gun Violence: The Real Cost:

The United States has the highest rate of gun related injuries (not deaths per capita) among developed countries, though it also has the highest rate of gun ownership and the highest rate of officers.

Endless studies offer various chart-topping stats where the U.S. reigns as the world leader or second banana in gun violence, gun crime, gun accidents, and gun death. Gun-control and gun-rights policy advocates devoutly trade salvos over remedies for these rising numbers.

Hippies, peaceniks, gun-control Commies, and parents of 1st graders will press for new legislation to enforce stricter regulation of guns, their owners, and the Smiths that make them.

Equally, lovers of freedom, Constitutional straight shooters, dead burglars, and gun-rights militia maniacs will praise education and safety as the honest path to protect families, and our god-given, federally recognized right to peashooters.  

When guns are left to Rednecks, only Rednecks will gun down Leftists  

The straight and narrow path must include stopping power.

Verily, the straight and narrow path must needs deliver  2400 fps of stopping power.

Don’t ask. It’s my best shot at covering gun-policy dogma under a bumper sticker. Take the phrase as double plus truth that bumper stickers press buttons, not intellects.

Frankly, as a godless tree-hugging Liberal with ties to childhood in Slidell, Louisiana, Jesus, and a Smith & Wesson Model 19 .357 smoke wagon, I hope to have insulted anyone who can read. Of course, the Bubbas crawling through my familial swamp may target such a sticker as a challenge, or at least a compliment.

Rifles, pocket warmers and violence go together like Glocks and Hydra-Shocks. Should we blame guns for this aggressive relationship?

As tools for hunting and protection, boom sticks have no power to inflict harm until somebody snaps their lock, yanks their trigger cocked, and gets ready to rock.

Or, should we simply find fault with humans who turn guns into dupes, forcing hole punchers to become accessories to crime and destruction?

Maybe we should stop making heaters the butt of all blame for gun violence. Once we grasp equalizers as the injured party, we dare not exile these innocent victims, coerced into a brutal pattern of villainy caused by reckless mortals.

Peacemakers mindlessly work to reduce the human side of the gun controversy by culling the number of people who will ever enjoy access to persuaders. Unfortunately cutting down our population through homicide defies direct correlation with reductions in gun violence—probably because guns don’t die while people do.  

America’s codependent romance with street sweepers has reached overkill

Hey, it's just for deer and home protection.

Hey, it’s just for deer, home security and 1st graders.

We actually can lessen our danger in front of choppers if we loosen the grip of those who stand behind them. Seriously, bringing back the national ban on military grade assault rifles ain’t gonna kills us.

Do we really need spray and pray banana clips to drop a deer? Are we crazy for setting speed traps to catch unstable kooks who could be plotting to go out with a bang of body bags?

Sane, god fearing folks have nothing to fret from universal background checks save their own impatience. And you can bet babies to bullets that crusaders for “no control” will take refuge in cliché to rebuke the slippery slope while ignoring our sticky floors. 

CNN Conservative correspondent, Erick Erickson (1/15/2013): You may think a 30-round magazine is too big.  Under the real purpose of the Second Amendment, a 30-round magazine might be too small.

Boosters for no control may confront a rude awakening as states demonstrate sovereign latitude to interpret and legislate our Second Amendment. On January 15th, the State of New York enacted our country’s toughest gun control laws yet, banning military assault rifles while mandating background checks for the purchase of ammo.

On January 16th, President Obama signed 23 executive actions proposing stronger federal gun control. Ever since, the NRA and gun-rights advocates have screamed bloody murder, much to the chagrin of mourners who’ve been doing the same thing since December 14th at Sandy Hook Elementary.

Blessed is the Bushmaster .223 caliber M4 carbine

On January 19th, in response to so much gun safety madness, a Republican consulting firm spearheaded the national public relations counterpunch known as Gun Appreciation Day. Lovers of bullets and justice were encouraged to visit many impromptu shows dotting the country, organized to commemorate this special day. While defending our freedom to bare arms, five patriotic enthusiasts–let’s call them victims– sustained gun shot wounds at three separate gun shows.

Poor PR campaigns can work against your cause.

Blind faith and reckless PR campaigns inspire national support for stronger federal restrictions.

When questioned about this event coinciding with our celebration of civil rights icon Martin Luther King, Jr, Larry Ward, chairman of Gun Appreciation Day, fired back with double-barreled wisdom:

WARD: I think Martin Luther King, Jr. would agree with me if he were alive today that if African-Americans had been given the right to keep and bear arms from day one of the country’s founding, perhaps slavery might not have been a chapter in our history.

Who would dare deny the compelling genius of  this simple logic? With each new tragedy, no-control advocates fervently bear witness that violence could have been averted. 

They insist we eliminate innocent victims by guarding them with guns, by issuing  our populace permits to carry concealed weapons, and by hiring teachers and faculty to tote guns. This same logic suggests we strap up older students with 9mm stopping power.

Clearly, no waiting period, fast reflexes, and quick access to sidearms will solve most of our culture’s gun violence bugaboo. We will draw down gun violence only when citizens refuse to reach for the sky, then reach for their heaters, ending terror in the split second they start shooting back.

We need to stop criminalizing guns just because they fall in with bad company. They promise to protect us all next time. Honest. Guns never mean to hurt anybody on purpose. Baby, they’re just made that way. Hmm, Guns Now More Than Ever. Sure, it all makes sense now.

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Double Divas: More Proof that Reality Shows are Neither

The Gift of Lift

Lifetime channel’s new reality TV show, Double Divas, features Molly and Cynthia, proprietors of LiviRae Lingerie, an intimate apparel boutique specializing in custom fit bras for breasts of all sizes. Finding quality support is chore enough for women with standard equipment. Meanwhile the intimate apparel industry often ignores the supersized when it comes to making products for nonstandard mammary glands.

Just a couple good ol' girls with the gift of lift.

Just a couple good ol’ gals with the gift of lift.

Molly and Cynthia provide valuable service and genuine humor from their shop in Kennesaw, Georgia. But will their docuseries offer a meatier look at contemporary gender role complexities, or just titillation? As our first episode opens we overhear Molly’s phone conversation with new clients who form a gospel chorus concerned with a more professional style of musical presentation:

“It’s OK, because God made you the way that you are, but we can just facilitate you in another way so y’all don’t have to worry about the bouncing bosoms in church when you’re receiving the blessings of the Lord.”

In following scenes, Molly helps a male customer who wants to honor his wife through lingerie that screams “freak in the sheets.” They settle on a microscopic nurse outfit with snaps in the back, and send home a grinning husband. Unfortunately, his wife returns to confess that she feels like “the hired help,” and begins the search for more tasteful attire. Viewers are then treated to a smoking hot mom posing in a two-piece worthy of a Playboy party. Our pupils dilate as Mom finds greater self-respect in front of multiple mirrors.

In another storyline, Cynthia tailors a “Bro Bra” for a marathon runner who suffers from bleeding nipples caused by constant chafing against sweaty shirts. Cynthia seems proud of her invention and confides “Half the people I’ve dated had man boobs.” However, on arrival to inspect new sportswear, a strapping man reveals only disdain for slender fabric that resembles a training bra for moobs. He assures the girls that no male runner would wear it, concluding with “What’s the point of having intact nipples if your pride is broken?”

Spoiler alert

Look closely at the center model, if you dare!

Look closely at the center model, if you dare!

Lifetime’s Double D main page makes the following false claim:

“Boasting a hilariously unfiltered cast exuding Southern charm and hospitality, “Double Divas” follows LiviRae owners and best friends Molly Hopkins, the “boob whisperer,” and Cynthia Richards, the “Thomas Edison” of custom lingerie, as they display their natural talent helping women with any and all intimate apparel needs.”

I am shocked to discover that DD’s’ customer service rep, Lauren Schaffer, has submitted to significant filtration, hailing only recently from a shameless hussy girl band called The Coedz. Lauren’s glamor girl contours have arrived to serve ratings before clients. Unbelievable. Do I take umbrage with Lauren’s pouting lips, dazzling green eyes, and potentially enhanced topography? No. Never. I am not comatose.

But I remain dismayed that I could have invested a fortune in gas and tire wear, hunting for mythical creatures who are in fact not indigenous to the greater Atlanta County area. Nor do I appreciate this senseless breach of broadcast trust.

Where’s the beef?

Yes, I can see the honesty in this reality TV show.

Yes, I can see the honesty in this reality TV show.

Don’t expect a journalistic mandate from a show whose title comes in cup size. Still, realistic attention to clinical concerns and negative social stigma could help humanize breasts as an intricate part of feminine sexuality, elevating them above the status of sex toy or marketing tool. After all, breast cancer, mastectomy, loss of effeminate esteem, chronic back pain, and difficult lactation don’t sell beer or bikinis, but they deserve air time at LiviRae Lingerie.

Double Divas could actually cowgirl up with an intricate exploration of adult female sexuality, or just expect viewers to gob at gazangas. Most likely, Double Divas will faithfully cast its baited hook, fishing for easy market share, luring in horn dogs with big bras and bouncing boobs.

Even so, the courage to add some intellect might give this show wider demographic appeal and future seasons.  We have no shortage of controversy in a culture shamelessly eager to marginalize the mammary, relegating weighty aspects of monumental busts to TV commercials, billboards, websites, and fetish porn.

All boob and no brain equals soft porn

While I don’t object to graphic portrayals analyzing primate mating rituals exhibited within modern western society, I’m certain that breasts keep getting the short end of the stick. Portraits of buxom babes crowd our landscape, bursting with oversexed zeal across every communicative conduit plugged into our daily lives. We swim in a media mainstream awash in eye candy, starving for brain food.

I.will.not.objectify.women. I.will..Daaaaamn!

I.will.not.objectify.women. I.will..Daaaaamn!

Bereft of artful aesthetic, images of busty babes hawk for a quick buck, pushing onto our field of view and digital doorsteps as vehicles for commerce.

Sure, I’m genetically compelled to salivate at every single carnal depiction. At the same time, a tiny part of my reptilian attic fights valiantly against hormonal hardwiring, boobs-for-beers marketing mantras, and our creepy Madonna/whore double standard.

I constantly strive for mental page rank, prioritizing breasts as objects of love, beauty, intimacy, and life. And it ain’t easy!

Every breathing hairy ape, breeder and bi alike, loves to race eyeballs down a blinding fast slalom, hugging the dangerous curves of female anatomy.

Tragically, death remains the only cure for this overt manifestation of testosterone poisoning. Nevertheless I doubt the longevity of a reality show whose voyeuristic premise caters to a knuckle-dragging demographic already accustomed to hearing, “Hey, eyes up here, asshole!” Before passing final judgment, let’s peel back the gossamer layers of this show’s thin skin.

What will we see on Double D?

This visual metaphor captures Double D's brand of feminine empowerment.

This visual metaphor captures Double D’s brand of feminine empowerment.

Naturally, breasts the size of orbital satellites will amass a unique set of issues. Double Divas could score smarty-pants appreciation, bringing us uncompromising narrative whose main thrust exposes moments of genuine vulnerability.

Mental massaging would stimulate a wider range of onlookers by observing provocative gender issues such as stereotypes, Feminine Mystique, sexual harassment, the search for dialog with eye contact, breast-feeding in public, and our heritage of Victorian repression.

Will Molly and Cynthia dare to confront the motives and esteem of women who seek inflated status through saline solution and surgical mutation the size of weather balloons? Not a chance. Denouncing the Myth of Barbie to advocate for sanity over silicon would reduce more profits than busts in this boutique.

With few exceptions, reality shows work tirelessly to produce neither. Occasionally glimpses of honest storytelling wander on camera. Ideally, Double D will rise above its peep show premise, overlooking cleavage to peer into psyches and stories of those women who shoulder the Rubenesque burden of finding a comfortable bra. But a show whose slant prizes drool over debate won’t make a grab for intellectual appeal.

To guys who watch: You better watch your 6

Male members in the target audience, who plan to leer at this program in the vicinity of seething female partners, better rehearse a convincing act of indignation. Save your bacon, boys, and take to the high road when your companion reaches for the remote. You’re not a fixated fetish freak, but rather a concerned, misunderstood man, eager to shrink the cold space between Mars and Venus. Share your respect for balanced reportage that pairs gender role burden with celebration of continental cleavage as both Feminist and feminine.

Women don't look like Double D's target audience.

Women don’t look like Double D’s target audience.

Then get ready to lose this battle. A bold stand for reality show racks will insult the IQ of any woman seeking substance from her television. Thinking men will avoid petty TV turf wars and nights on the couch in favor of harmony and access to 3-dimensional breasts.

Once your better half smells the stink on your noble quest for insight you may yet command the remote. Admit defeat, confess Neanderthal ignorance, and then immediately check the DVR list for an episode of Downton Abbey. It’s your only chance.

Double Divas will continue to attract heavenly bodies to its specialty shop dedicated to 18 hour support of bodacious boobs. Episodes will rarely deviate from the seesaw verité focus on T & A.

Well-proportioned clientele will arrive regularly to try out skimpy outfits under a magnifying glass, or to decelerate the downward trajectory of biological beauty, doomed to obey the relative laws of time, mass, and gravity. If we’re lucky, we may even find a little hard truth among all those breasts, bras and bums.

What can we say about reality TV that wins hearts without minds?

Tasteful presentation and a hint of mystery will drive this new reality TV winner.

Tasteful presentation and a hint of mystery will drive my new reality TV vehicle.

Like any new TV treatment, Double Divas longs for legacy as a well-endowed series. The stamina of this shtick will depend on how it handles the first few dates. Can its limp premise generate lasting chemistry and measure up to the higher standards of sophisticated female audiences?

After all, this too 2-dimensional concept relies on a dressing room banquet of massive bosoms studied through cameras mounted on the ceiling. Ironically Double D overlooks the fact that most women refuse to tolerate wide-eyed gaping at voluptuous assets outside of lingerie stores, pole dancing, or foreplay.

Most of us remember younger nights and that mad rush to couple with someone we barely knew. And most of us quickly learned that orgasmic encounters without honest emotion, real intimacy, or stimulating conversation transform erotic studs into anticlimactic duds.

Double Divas will rise with the momentum and bang of a noisy booty call, only to peter out  as a dull, excruciating breakfast. You’ve seen it naked, looked into its heart, tested its IQ, and suddenly realize there’s nothing left to your imagination. Well, at least you had a good laugh.

If this brain-dead brand of reality TV finds a way to survive through the trailer park charity of mentally challenged audiences, I will not mourn the death of American culture. In fact, I’m working on my own reality concept destined to eclipse Survivor as a smash hit with staying power.

Nobody seems to understand the travails endured by French supermodels who struggle to find comfortable haute couture G-strings. I’ll blow this controversy wide open with a balanced perspective, touching on empowerment and personal redemption told through the unblinking integrity of floor-level cameras.

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Make Your Own Reasons for this Silly Season

To Dylan James Nelson, my only begotten son and beloved maker of ornaments

Would you pay to see this movie?

Interesting plot, but we'll have to rework the script to fix the weaknesses.

Interesting plot, but we’ll have to rework the script to fix the weaknesses.

A powerful father, to circumvent incest and adultery with a married daughter, artificially inseminates her to sire his favorite son. The humble child matures into a scholarly carpenter whose wisdom astounds the great thinkers of his era.

This son, despite preference for female companionship, opts to forgo family values, abstaining from passion and progeny in manly prime to choose torture and unspeakable suffering. Strangely, he begins to believe his untimely death will change the fates of countless brothers and sisters, living, buried, and unborn.

Desperate to please an absent patriarch, the son cannot accept that all-knowing Dad has already preordained reward or damnation for all those billions of siblings who walk the Earth, rest within it, or who have yet to  emerge as flesh and blood. Had our only begotten son confronted this mind-blowing paradox, he would have marveled at the divine futility of his Herculean sacrifice.

A Triumph of French Cinema

Clearly this plot line comes to us via the darling of France’s Academy of Film Arts and Sciences; a director who wins accolades for ambitiously exploring Oedipal elements of the single victim mechanism, collective violence, and expulsion from patrimonial community against a backdrop of Freudian psycho-sexual tension. The director’s tour de force impales European moviegoers, decrying a deterministic society in which we die alone as prey to cruel and absurd events.

Palme d'Or

Truffaut‘s dark tale is a slam dunk for the Palme d’Or. Shockingly, the Oscar escapes his grasp despite rave international reviews. Crestfallen, critics blame the Screen Actors Guild for lacking the stones to award emotionally complex storytelling driven by intensely stratified subtext .

Look Joe, it's OK to ask a few questions.

Look Joe, it’s OK to ask a few questions.

Guild insiders later confess their inability to forgive this foreign film’s one artistic sin which coincidentally also plagues American cinema. Inexplicably the son returns from the dead in closing scenes as part of a shameless feel-good gimmick.

Gushing audiences dab tears when our antihero proclaims miraculous recovery, invoking new super powers to beam off planet in a blinding shaft of white light. Crowds cheer as the big screen fades to black. Deus ex machina  triumphs in propelling record-breaking box office sales.

However, this ham-fisted device in the dénouement galls SAG voters who squirm while exquisite tragedy and art film immortality transfigure before their eyes from gutsy classic to spineless hit.

If you answered “yes” to this movie, you probably can’t wait to see how surround sound and 3D effects add tooth and nail to mob scenes in a fantasy blockbuster. If you answered “no” to this movie, you’ve likely met a few carpenters and refuse to believe even one can sit still long enough to read anything besides blueprints.

When making sense looks like a fantasy flick, you don’t have buy tickets

Crazy winter solstice rites and strange beliefs are as old as humankind. For example, the Kalash people of Pakistan celebrate Chawmos, whose purification ritual requires men to pour water over their heads while holding up a loaf of bread. They must avoid sitting on chairs until evening when goat’s blood is sprinkled on their faces. Once everybody’s pure the fun begins.

Ancient Greece had a midwinter girl gathering called Lanaea, or the Festival of Wild Women. Sorry guys, better not crash this bash before lunchtime. Maenads, or female followers of Dionysus, (Greek god of the grape harvest, wine making and wine,  ritual madness and ecstasy), would enter the forest to descend upon a man or bull representing their god, tearing the poor beast to pieces before devouring its flesh raw.

Well, actually many academics now assert that evidence doesn’t support this macabre stereotype, but we can all agree that the fiesta involved oodles of lunatic ladies dancing on local mountainsides.

The Wild Hunt exalts the manlier traditions of violence and virility.

Wild Hunt exalts the manlier traditions of blood lust, kidnapping and great hair.

Yuletide has entered our culture as a remnant of Germanic pagan religious festivals. Originally occurring in late December or early January, according to the Germanic lunar calendar, Yuletide made its home permanently on December 25th following the adoption of the Christian calendar (Julian calendar).

Yuletide has historical connections to the myth of the Wild Hunt, which warns believers to take cover before a spectral cavalcade of berserk huntsmen, fairies, dark witches, and former pagan gods armed to the teeth, sweeping land and sky amid horses and demonic hounds.

Seeing this hunt could portend war, plague, or if you’re lucky, just plain ol’ death. This satanic horde sucked out the souls of wicked and innocent witnesses, discarding lifeless bodies in midair, kidnapping spirits for a journey to the land of the dead.

On a more gruesome note, scholars speculate that the Wild Hunt served as a convenient scapegoat, explaining away abducted kids, murdered step-children, and crippled offspring who endured extreme domestic violence. Surely that long fall to the ground would account for severe cranial injuries on a young German corpse.

Have a blast during our wacky solstice season

Christmas is a wondrous time of giving, getting and grudges, charged by the emotional spark of friends, family and feuds. So many strange and disparate expectations compete for our December, suddenly populated by an asylum of screwballs who go gaga for fantasy tales. Crusading against all that crazy would simply turn you into Ebeneezer.

Maenads: Followers of Dionysus

Maenad myth placed men on the menu

Take counsel from the surf instructor in Forgetting Sarah Marshall: “When life gives you lemons, just say ‘F— the lemons,’ and bail.” Well adjusted revelers will assure you that sound reason is no reason for the season.

Seriously, if you stumbled upon a naked band of wild women emerging from the dappled light of evergreens, drenched in blood and drunk with desire, wouldn’t you beg to join their picnic?

Sometimes a ridiculous celebration spontaneously bursts open like a piñata to commemorate its own fleeting existence. Don’t let your compulsion for careful planning sterilize the spirit lingering in the air, waiting to infect us all. Choose your weapon, put on the blindfold, and swing for the bleachers till some of that senseless joy spills out into your life.

Make holiday hoopla that makes sense to you

Festivus for the rest of us.

Festivus for the rest of us.

Festivus comes to us through the comic genius of the hit series, Seinfeld. George Costanza’s barely stable father, Frank, has an epiphany while raining blows on another shopper in a retail death match over a doll for George. Sadly, the doll doesn’t survive the struggle. However, Frank Costanza’s revelation guides him to renounce Christmas commercialism to observe a more honest ritual, declaring “Festivus for the rest of us.”

The Festivus Pole stands in stark contrast to the decorative excess and expense of a dead fir and won’t burn down your house. Airing of the Grievances and Feats of Strength offer original panache while ironically paying homage to traditional Christmas dinners, particularly where liquid cheer fills glasses in bounteous supply.

College kids and holiday hipsters recognize Festivus as a cool theme. You don’t have to deck the halls, and can leave the holly on the boughs. More importantly, Festivus defies cultural prejudice because it doesn’t claim any of the customs common to Chrismahanukwanzakah. If Festivus feels too conventional for your taste, make up something fresh.

Decorative ideas should reflect your unique traditions

Here in the Southwest I occasionally see the Christmas cactus. This ritual is far “greener” than any tree you buy at the lot. The practice recognizes trees as a vital, sustainable resource for reducing the carbon dioxide that fuels global warming. Better yet, a Christmas cactus will never spontaneously combust into a pillar of fire.

Christmas Cactus

Let thy light so shine.

To commemorate cultural roots, my personal custom calls for a “White Trash” tree.  Scotch pines achieve true beauty only in death, adorned by sparkly plastic relics, paper ringlets, homemade ornaments, Xmas throwaways, and yard sale gems, including  my son’s long discarded relics and G.I. Joes. Every worthless bauble tells a priceless tale when my Island of Misfit Toys returns to nestle in the brittle arms of fallen timber.

The tree’s shining star is a 20″ plastic Godzilla modified through proctological procedure to mount high atop its branches.  While I alone must secure the monster to its roost, an honored guest will choose the unlucky toy that writhes in agony enshrined between Godzilla’s savage jaws. For good or ill, Gumby usually gets plucked to consecrate this calling.

Christmas has borrowed or stolen its traditions, and so should you

Christmas Card to Aunt, 12-25-1967

Christmas 1967

In olden times, before smart phones and the Web, a beloved and popular couple bid farewell to the godforsaken tundra of Evansville, Indiana to spend their golden years in sunny San Diego’s North County. Rummaging through the must and mold of my favorite used bookstore more than a couple decades later, I came across a flat box in the shape of a large book which had landed on dusty shelves through an estate sale.

Inside I found dozens of Christmas cards, newsletters stamped in the muddy alphabet of prehistoric Underwoods, picture postcards of 2.5 children and a dog, along with group photos mailed to Mr. and Mrs. “North County” in December of ’67.

1967 saw the performance of the first Superbowl and the first heart transplant. In 1967 a house cost $24,600 while a gallon of gas demanded an investment of 33 cents. At 23, Michael  married Lisa, who had left her teens just 6 months earlier. Sharing personal events required you to sit and choose words carefully, fishing your stream of conscious for the perfect line before landing the next sentence. Mailing your letter meant scraping up an entire nickel for the stamp, but you could still send a postcard for a penny. 

Merry Christmas from June and Dick

Merry Christmas from June and Dick

This archeology of warm wishes arrived in plump paragraphs from folks who knew how to blend vulnerability with ink, including priests, nuns, bankers, dealership owners, friends, family, business associates, even the Rotary Club–whatever that was.

Letters spoke of graduations, marriages, and christenings, meticulously recounted for missing pillars of their Evansville community. They spoke as a chorus with love, longing, and blessings for happiness in a new home.

In a fit of inspirational madness I decided to resurrect these spirits and join them with the kooky fringe of my own clan. On the front of each envelope I added a fresh stamp, then changed the mailing address so the name of each new recipient appeared directly under Mr. and Mrs. North County. I refused to alter poetry within the cards but most missives closed with the following: “P.S. Jay Nelson hopes to see you during the holidays and looks forward to sharing a hug and a tall glass of Christmas cheer.” 

After receiving her card, Gramma called me and said, “You know, I didn’t really understand any of it, but when I finally saw your name I guess I wasn’t surprised. It sort of makes sense coming from you.” Years later my son and I made ornaments from some of the remaining cards. The final dozen bedeck home and heart at the close of every year with greetings from creaky Christmas ghosts. I’ve never met them, but I know them all intimately.  And every year I quietly thank them all for faithfully reminding me why I adore this silly season.

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Finding the Cure for A Charlie Brown Christmyth

Christmas spirit doesn’t come from Christmas mythology

Light up for Christmas!

Colored lights can hypnotize.

After Halloween harvest time explodes with color and relentless bombardment from a barrage of Christmas specials, wacky tunes, commercials, internet advertisements and gaudy decorations.

I don’t believe in old farts who switch from miserly to magnanimous, flying fat men who breed elves as indentured servants, or thirty-three year old virgins. But every November I marvel at the odd parade of myths resurrected to embellish this  festive time of year.

Our fables return to sparkle with the lights on houses and trees. They reach brilliance in our collective conscious then die off like autumn leaves by New Year’s Day.   

As winter solstice looms, broadcasts choke under the blizzard of sugary wishes for merriment and good cheer. Even agnostics and atheists who track holidays with a jaundiced eye fall sway to this positive vibe. Some border on mirthful.

We view Christmas as a laughable global spell whose trashy tradition and stolen rituals find eternal life through sacred retail marathons. We dig the goofball bling and silly trappings that light up offices, living rooms, and front yards. And who would turn her nose at a frosty glass of holiday cheer? So why do we struggle with a perennial funk before we carve out our slice of celebration? Easy. We get uppity under so much pressure to act jolly, believe strange stories, and pretend our lives resemble a Norman Rockwell painting.

Holiday classics fuel the Christmyth Industrial Complex with an orgy of happy endings

Claymation stars of Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer

Rudolph and friends save Christmas

Stop-motion reindeer, cartoon snowmen, and celluloid humans miraculously overcome hardship. Through selfless decisions and personality makeovers, these creatures find redemption among whole communities, who then seek the affection of their villain in spite of damage inflicted on witless victims.

Closing scenes feature codependent characters laughing, dancing, or singing in ecstatic unison, helpless to suppress jubilation. Maybe I lack the spirit to bust out a joyful jig like Mr. Fezziwig at the company dance.  But don’t get me wrong, I love holiday classics. Sadly the cherished performances of my youth no longer convey an innocent glow.

They have become rocket fuel in an annual economic blast off that can make or break businesses, guiding the financial fates of untold thousands.

I confess a secret resentment for my treasured shows that trot out adorable creatures to rekindle my sense of betrayal. Inspiring sheer wonder and excitement during my childhood, they have devolved into empty messengers who eulogize a magic I will never recapture.

Scrooge: moneygrubbing misanthrope

Scrooge: moneygrubbing misanthrope

Syrupy morality tales obsess over feeling good while connecting negative feelings with poor character. Luckily all antidotes heal through simple feel-good resolutions. Would be villains and ne’er-do-wells may select any of the following:

return piles of stolen gifts despite a clean getaway, befriend the Abominable Snowman and rescue the Island of Misfit Toys, add dazzle to a ragged sapling, choose not to waste final days as a moneygrubbing ass,

or just give away your last nickel to a hoard of empty-handed townsfolk, then trust  a mentally challenged uncle with $8,000 (about $100,000 in 2012) in cash to make a bank deposit whose blunder sends your  Building & Loan  racing for the fiscal cliff. Don’t worry. They all work.

If your bum gets too itchy sitting through so much Christmas confection, you won’t wait long for the next commercial break. Buy this alcohol. Buy this toy. Buy this laptop. Buy this smart phone. Buy this iPod. You’ll feel better. People will like you more.     

Congratulations. You survived Thanksgiving only to run the gauntlet of Christmyth giving

Perhaps the true mark of Christmas giving lives in the red-blooded bravery surging through the veins of early shoppers. Fortune hunters endure endless suffering in monstrous lines on a frosty night, only to be swept away by the crush of rampaging buyers eager to trample bodies for an off-brand flat screen.

Maybe we should call it black Thursday

Black Friday has hijacked Thanksgiving

Our culture places so much emphasis on retail gifting that anyone willing to face Black Friday should earn a medal of valor for holiday heroics.

We salute the gallant fools who confront commerce as a tactical operation. Comatose after a day of feasting and alcohol abuse, shoppers end their family holiday too soon, daring new dangers at midnight.

Black Friday has stolen our rest and recovery, sending Thanksgiving revelers into darkness, heedless of sleep at the wheel, DUI‘s, night blindness, or physical assault threatening their courageous grab for low priced electronics.

Wiley shoppers win kudos for attacking Christmas, battling seasonal madness in a surgical strike before it can infect their merry-making mojo.

Nevertheless my one-fingered salute goes out to you, Black Friday! Quit messing with my Thanksgiving. And tall praise to shoppers with the wisdom to consider the difference between giving a gift and giving a damn.

Christmyth and anxiety go together like Santa and Rudolph

Congratulations. You hunkered down during Thanksgiving’s emotional tempest to emerge defiantly with a bruised ego and a stubborn scrap of dignity. To your horror you realize you’ll have to muster again for a tougher trial in a matter of weeks. And this time you must temper thankfulness with joy and cheer, even as you fall under the shadow of a mounting storm. Here, look into its eye:

Don't blame God, blame Santa

Don’t blame God, blame Santa

Where do we stash the kids over winter break? Whose names go on the gift list? Who’s been nice?

Forget nice. Who’s been extra naughty and what should I get him that says “Keep it up”?

Can we drop off the kids and split town for a couple days? How do we convince our offspring that Santa prefers to reward smart children with books and educational presents, not iPhones? What’s the least I can spend on my knuckle-dragging boss without looking cheap?

What gestures can I make that bear modest expense but prove I really care? Should we even bother with family who offer so little in return? Why does Mom get to decide that? No. It’s never too early for single malt on Christmas.

I told you “never again” last year. Tell ‘em order the turkey burger at McDonald’s. Who’s cooking what for Christmas dinner? This knife goes straight to their jugulars if they tease me about tofurky!

They invited him? Is he the creepy one who drinks too much and stares at Sis? Why won’t those pain-in-the-ass in-laws ever come to our place for turkey dinner? I don’t know where your dad plans to visit, but it won’t be in my house!

Why do we have to arrange everything–again? Who’s covering the booze and party favors for the get together? Please plan on driving. I refuse to face your parents sober.

Holiday alliances, new and old, form every fall, marshaling friends and family under temporary détente. Tribal politics and old grudges determine where we meet and who attends. Economics and emotion inform the way we celebrate the season’s ritual of giving. Small wonder many of these reunions reflect all the charm of a border war in the Middle East. But keep the faith. Christmas miracles really do come to pass if we manage to bid farewell to bastard, bitch, and beloved alike without angry tears or sworn vengeance.

Sorry Charlie, a few scriptures and a bony fir tree won’t make you happy

At the beginning of my favorite classic, A Charlie Brown Christmas, Charlie confesses to his pal, Linus, that he’s having difficulty finding his holiday spirit:

Charlie struggles to understand his emotions

It’s OK, Charlie, Christmas confusion is totally normal.

“I think there must be something wrong with me, Linus. Christmas is coming, but I’m not happy. I don’t feel the way I’m supposed to feel. I just don’t understand Christmas, I guess.”

“I like getting presents and sending Christmas cards, decorating trees and all that, but I’m still not happy. I always end up feeling depressed.”

Linus listens to his friend’s complaint and offers the best advice of the entire show:

“Charlie Brown, you’re the only person I know who can take a wonderful season like Christmas and turn it into a problem. Maybe Lucy’s right – of all the Charlie Browns in the world, you’re the Charlie Browniest.”    

As our story continues, Charlie laments the behavior of friends, family, and Snoopy, all of whom have succumbed to Christmas commercialism. While Charlie attempts unsuccessfully to direct the school play, Linus recites the second chapter of the Gospel of Luke, verses 8 through 14. 

Following the “Tidings of great joy,” Charlie and Linus go tree shopping and bring back the scrawniest weed on the lot.  Some decorative flash transforms the shrimpy fir into a huge and glorious sparkler. Charlie is redeemed, finds his happy spirit  and everybody likes him again.

None of this naive horse poop makes a lick o’ sense. Damn it, Charlie, you had it right in the opening scene. Next time trust your instincts and look for a sane solution to December madness.

Define your own Decembers  during this dysfunctional season

Not all of Santa's reindeer make it back to the North Pole.

Not all of Santa’s reindeer make it back to the North Pole.

The holidays can go pretty rough on us. Competing expectations demand a lot of work, money and emotional expense. 

How do we resolve the guilt when we’re too broke for all that giving? How do we avoid feeling worse when friends and family still lavish us with presents?   

Are we rude for growing exasperated with humans who vex us for not accepting their brand of mythology? Truly, reason itself is reason enough for not accepting their reason for the season.

How do we deal with homesickness while our friends celebrate with loved ones?  How do we heal our insecurity for not fitting into this cultural fantasy of true believers and  TV-perfect families with deep pockets? How do we escape from this seasonal asylum and stay merry at the same time? 

A little anxiety, depression, or  confusion look like a healthy response to this joyous psychosis. Remember, Christmas comes but once a year and you’ll get over it.

Stop trying to measure up to December’s delusional ideals. Focus on the people you genuinely care about. Steer clear of folks who steal your cheer, including your passive aggressive mom, verbally abusive dad, and alcoholic brother.

Christmas has no supernatural power to make the you the family meat puppet. Don’t accept commitments that lead to self loathing. Sharing genes does not obligate you to share the same house. Shut up, smile and nod on the 25th, but don’t take any bait that allows crazy relatives into your head where they can piss on your mirthful mojo. Shield yourself from wintry angst by creating traditions that make sense to you. Through positive personal rituals you’ll Jones anew for the solstice to taste again the starry-eyed wonder claimed by followers of flying fat men and thirty-three year old virgins.

Humor is my reason for the season

Presents Opening Kids

Good little gifts get lots of kids for Christmas.

“The Supreme Court has ruled that they cannot have a nativity scene in Washington, D.C. This wasn’t for any religious reasons. They couldn’t find three wise men and a virgin.” — Jay Leno

“There is a remarkable breakdown of taste and intelligence at Christmastime. Mature, responsible grown men wear neckties made of holly leaves and drink alcoholic beverages with raw egg yolks and cottage cheese in them.” — P.J. O’Rourke

“The one thing women don’t want to find in their stockings on Christmas morning is their husband.” — Joan Rivers

“Ever wonder what people got Jesus for Christmas? It’s like, “Oh great, socks. You know I’m dying for your sins right? Yeah, but thanks for the socks! They’ll go great with my sandals. What am I, German?” — Jim Gaffigan

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Twinkie The Kid Rides West for the Last Round Up

Twinkie The Kid Rides West for the Last Round Up

Sure, we could make scapegoats of striking bakery workers, blaming them for your demise. On the other hand, the hedge funds that own you made mighty poor decisions.

Owners focused on investor profits to the exclusion of upgrades in manufacturing technology, equipment, and competitive sales strategies which would have helped  maintain your market share.

And when the going got tough, your company determined its employees would have to shoulder major sacrifices to evade corporate bankruptcy by conceding to slashed pensions, reduced wages and costlier health care plans.

No wonder you’re headed for the last round up, Twinkie The Kid. I’ve never met a union member willing to offer up hard earned pay as charity to correct the blunders of upper management.

Twinkie The Kid Will Ride Again

Listen, Twinkie, since your word is your brand, you may yet ride shotgun, triumphantly escaping  the smoldering remains of Hostess in search of gastronomic adventure. Sadly, Ho Ho‘s and Devil Dogs may not have the strength to follow you out of this battle. However, I predict your brand will come under the leadership of corporate young guns with a smart business model.

You’ll return stronger than ever, sashaying into culinary horizons with healthier ingredients, fewer calories, and splashy designs that radiate eye-popping  marketing zazz. Who knows? You might even boast actual nutritional value. You’ll retake your old status roosting on store shelves, standing tall among premier junk foods instead of hiding out by the sour dough pretzels. And while I may not recognize the new you, I’m grateful for your contribution to my life, Kid.

Eulogy to Junk Food’s Fallen Hero

Thank you, Twinkie The Kid, for being there when excessive alcohol alone failed to fill the bottomless pit excavated by my emotional dysfunction. You drew a line in the bleached flour, and took a righteous, cream-filled stand against macrobiotic diets, low fat dairy and raw foods. Instinctively you reckoned that only something truly unnatural would have the power to cure beer munchies and self-indulgent angst.

Thank you for your lasting freshness, made possible through cellulose gum, Polysorbate 60, and calcium sulfate (a food-grade equivalent of plaster of Paris), ingredients commonly used in sheet rock, shampoo, and rocket fuel.

Every box carried an unwritten guarantee of infinite shelf life, making you the food of choice in a post-apocalyptic Zombie Land. The colors of your golden sponge cake and creamy center never faded because they derived from anolyn, benzine, and other petrochemicals. Every bite made me feel like an astronaut.

Thank you for teaching me poor dietary choices have consequences. Nevertheless, I regret that I must now scratch deep fried Twinkies off my bucket list.

Twinkies Taught Us Moderation

Once in a dog’s age a man just wants to feast on factory-refined vittles. Maybe he remembers what happened the last time he preyed upon an entire box of Twinkies, but he will not succumb to fear.  Heedless of the dangers he commits to the massive spike in blood sugar, swims in the comatose ecstasy of an oncoming biochemical crash, and endures the digestive responsibility of passing a potent laxative. These side effects only serve to strengthen his resolve to work awful hard at staying healthy through good nutrition.

He knows he’s chowing down on packaged poison and couldn’t give a damn who squawks about it. Folks who subsist on salads, soy milk, and diet drinks remain powerless to wrap their minds around such trashy intemperance. Don’t fret about them, Kid, they never appreciated you the way I do.

So how now do I fill this confectionery void? What new snack could possibly fill your vacuum sealed shoes, Twinkie? You led the pack as our ultimate choice in empty calories.

Death of a Cultural Icon and Way of Life

What treat would dare compete with your cultural impact, let alone match your ponderous list of chemical preservatives and additives? Is there another product in all of manufactured malnutrition equal to your starving carbohydrates, so cleverly packaged in a diabetic recipe of bright colors and sugary promise?

Hells bells! I feel like we as a nation have just lost a vital component defining our unique American way of life. I’m sorry; I can’t talk about this anymore. I’m getting all misty.

I hereby proclaim my unrequited love for you, Twinkie The Kid, and promise to attend your funeral! I’ll be the one at your wake sitting alone in the corner, honoring your legacy by stuffing my sorrows with a huge plate of pink Sno Balls and Zingers.

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My dream: to be able to drive a virus-powered car — Angela Belcher

mad science, new green batteriesUsing nature to grow batteries

Angela Belcher‘s TED Talk presentation is anything but a fluff piece. However, her discussion reveals the kind of exciting scientific discovery driving the future of sustainable energy. Clean, renewable energy awaits a society with the vision and willingness to invest in green technology.

We boast some of the sharpest scientific minds on the planet. By no coincidence, many have focused their R&D efforts on finding solutions for an Earth  that cannot indefinitely endure environmental damage from greenhouse gasses and global warming.

Synopsis

Inspired by an abalone shell, Angela Belcher programs viruses to make elegant nanoscale structures that humans can use. Selecting for high-performing genes through directed evolution, Belcher has produced viruses that can construct powerful new batteries, clean hydrogen fuels and record-breaking solar cells. Here, she shows us how it’s done. Talk recorded 14 January 2011.

About the Speaker

Angela Belcher looks to nature for inspiration on how to engineer viruses to create extraordinary new materials. With a bachelors in Creative Studies and a PhD in Inorganic Chemistry, Angela Belcher has made a career out of finding surprising and innovative solutions to energy problems.

As head of the Biomolecular Materials Group at MIT, Belcher brings together the fields of materials chemistry, electrical engineering and molecular biology to engineer viruses that can create batteries and clean energy sources. A MacArthur Fellow, she also founded Cambrios Technologies, a Cambridge-based startup focused on applying her work with natural biological systems to the manufacture and assembly of electronic, magnetic and other commercially important materials. Time magazine named her a climate-change hero in 2007.

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Frack from Fiction: What is Fracking?

Start with a visual aid and a definition.

Hydraulic fracturing has entered our  vocabulary as a hotly contested topic, dished up daily through our national media.

Fracking is responsible for a huge economic boom through technology that significantly boosts the harvest of natural gas. Meanwhile, the process of hydraulic fracturing receives plenty of bad press for its potential to do lasting environmental damage.

Before taking up your own position on this controversial issue, you should begin with an understanding that “fracking” is not that epithet commonly heard on the hit scifi series Battlestar Galactica.

However, opponents of this hydraulic process often adopt the fictional definition to voice very real environmental concerns.

Make sure you don’t belong to that 63% of America who can’t actually explain this weird term. Once you can articulate the process, you’ll find plenty of ammo to support your position, regardless of where you stand on the controversy.

Big ups to TreeHugger for the original graphic below, and the content examining the environmental implications for  this method of harvesting natural gas.

For the record, U.S. Green Chamber of Commerce continues to advocate for renewable energy sources which don’t contribute to global warming or guarantee a legacy of so much environmental damage.

Fracking

hydraulic fracturing

Fracking, the popular abbreviation for hydraulic fracturing, is a technique which injects highly-pressurized fluid into a well to split the rock and allow access to natural gas trapped within.

Energy companies, driven in no small part by dwindling reserves of easy-to-access fossil fuels, are increasingly turning to so-called unconventional sources of fossil fuels. Shale gas is one of these; and hydraulic fracturing promises to open up access to what is claimed to be vast to sources of natural gas, and profits.

National governments too, driven by a desire for greater energy independence, want access to these reserves of natural gas.

But big questions remain about the environmental safety of fracking: Will fracking cause more earthquakes? Will the chemicals used contaminate drinking water? What will be the impact on small farms? Does natural gas obtained by fracking have similar greenhouse gas emissions to other natural gas?

Energy companies downplay all of these concerns. Politicians focus on energy independence. Environmentalists urge caution. Whatever side you’re on, fracking is likely to remain an issue in the forefront of energy policy for some time.

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