Thursday June 17, 2010
Lancelot Links (Gets Covered in Oil)
- With all of the people blah-blah-blahing about the BP oil spill, it's nice to read someone who knows a little history—like Elizabeth Kolbert over at The New Yorker. A few weeks back she had a smart “Talk of the Town” piece on what happened with the Union Oil Company spill off the coast of California in 1968, what we subsequently did (in part: Earth Day, the EPA), and what's gone horribly wrong since. Who's to blame? All of us in our SUVs, certainly. Plus a few others:
Members of the Drill, Baby, Drill Party have blocked efforts to raise the liability limits for oil spills, and have yet to muster a single sponsor for climate legislation. At the same time, they have sought to portray the spill as President Obama’s Katrina.
The President does, in fact, share in the blame. Obama inherited an Interior Department that he knew to be plagued by corruption, but he allowed the department’s particularly disreputable Minerals Management Service to party on. Last spring, in keeping with its usual custom, the M.M.S. granted BP all sorts of exemptions from environmental regulations. Ironically, one of these exemptions allowed the company to drill the Deepwater Horizon well without adhering to the standards set by NEPA.
- So who else is to blame besides BP, all of the pretty deregulators in a row, all of the MMSers partying on, and all of us driving our SUVs and Hummers? Timothy Egan at The New York Times names a few more names, including Halliburton, who cemented the well that blew, and our court system, which allowed Exxon to get away with paying a fractiion of what they should've paid for the Exxon Valdez oil spill 22 years ago. He calls the John Roberts Supreme Court, in a line worth repeating, “a compliant pet of the corporate world.”
- Joel Connelly of the “I'm not dead yet” Seattle P.I. also has a line worth repeating: Exxon still owes $92 million from its 1988 spill.
- Last one on oil: David Carr's column last Monday on how BP, a private company, has hampered the press in their coverage. “BP is running everything down here,” said an employee of the St. Bernard Parish government. “It’s their show.” That's scary. I guess we're all compliant pets of the corporate world.
- How about some fun? Stephen Strasburg of the Washington Nationals made an impressive debut a week ago Tuesday—7 IP, 14 strikeouts, no walks, 2 earned runs, amazing stuff—and Joe Posnanski, the best baseball writer in the country, was there to liveblog the event.
- Despite all of the noise from fans about how Jim Joyce sucks, about how Bud Selig should give Armando Galarraga the perfect game anyway, about how replay is desperately needed in Major League Baseball, the players themselves think: a) Jim Joyce is the best umpire in the bigs (53%), the call shouldn't be overturned to allow the perfect game (86%), and no way replay (77%).
- My friend Adam keeps pushing Sports Illustrated on me and I'm beginning to think he's right. I made fun of Tom Verducci a few weeks back but he has another good piece, similar to Posnanski's, on Jim Joyce's blown call in Galaragga's better-than-perfect game. Grace quote I:
If Joyce provided a tipping point toward baseball's embracing more technology, the irony is that baseball never seemed so human and empathetic as it did in the aftermath of his blunder.
- Grace quote II:
Upon seeing a replay on the night of the blown call, Yankees closer Mariano Rivera said, “It happened to the best umpire we have in our game. The best. And a perfect gentleman. Obviously, it was a mistake. It's a shame for both of them, for the pitcher and the umpire. But I'm telling you, [Joyce] is the best baseball has, and a great guy. It's just a shame.”
- But Verducci isn't SI's best writer. Gary Smith is. And his latest piece is about Gareth Thomas, a rugby player for Wales, and the only openly gay professional athlete in the world.
This isn't BP's fault. This is rugby. And this is Gareth Thomas.
- Smart talk from Andrew Sullivan and friends on members of the Tea Party: Part I here, Part II here. Why are they so angry? Why, if they care about deficits, did they not protest George W. Bush, whom most of them supported, as he raised our national debt from $5 trillion to more than $10 trillion? Why wait two months into the new guy's administration to take to the streets? Read on, read on, teenage queen...
- He doesn't say it outright, but Jeffrey Wells over at Hollywood Elsewhere was a pretty big “Greenberg” fan. He saw it four times and hopes it stays in the heads of critics long enough to make top 10 lists in December. He also rightly slams Universal Home Video for marketing the film as if it's a slightly nutty relationship comedy. They've changed the austere, almost black-and-white, word-ballon movie poster to something colorful and snuggly. From “What's life all about?” to “Will they or won't they?” Has anyone done a piece on the most egregious DVD cover art ever? I'm not talking discussion forums, and I'm not talking about straight-to-DVD, only-10-people-have-ever-seen-it-anyway movies. I'm talking about theatricial releases with decent or great poster art that was reduced, in the transition to home entertainment, to something generic and awful. I don't want to do that piece but I'd like to see someone (someone getting paid) do that piece.
- The feds have approved box-office futures trading! I dibs James Cameron. I'd go short on this one.
- David Carr on “Restrepo,” the best movie I've seen this year.
- Finally, a really nice piece by Geoff Young on Ken Griffey, Jr.