Some Call it Gumbo

I’m busy this week and have many things on my mind and small bits of unfinished business, so while I usually restrict my commentaries to one topic, I’m going to borrow my friend Renee’s term and give you some Thursday gumbo – a little of everything.

The good thing about beekeeping is you have ready access to bee venom for your arthritic joints. The bad thing is that in winter, when your (and by “your,” I mean “my”) arthritis flares up, the bees are all inside.

Except when the sun shines. Bees won’t defect in the hive, so when you get a warm sunny day like today, the snow around the hives is speckled with yellow bee crap. I went out and thumped a hive and when the girls came out to see what was up, I grabbed one and stung the forefinger that’s been stiff and sore and now I have warm venom coursing through it. First sting of 2011.

It got up to 50 in northwest Vermont today and it’s 17 February. The first week of January, I noted most sub-zero weather in Vermont occurs between 31 December and 15 February. It was unusually warm that first week of January and it’s stayed that way. We did have a week, or almost a week, of sub-zero weather toward the end of January, but that was it. I feel cheated. We’ve had plenty of snow, but then global warming predictions for this area include more precipitation of all kinds.

Following up on another old commentary, I was wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong in September when I wrote, “As far as I can see, the only successful facebook campaign resulted in Betty White hosting Saturday Night Live. I CAN attest that attempts at facebook political organizing have and do waste countless hours that should have been dedicated to real political organizing.”

Shut up, Mark. I still think facebook, as most Americans use it, is a waste of time, but clearly on-line social networks have more than earned their keep in recent weeks by aiding democratic and peaceful rebellion in the Middle East.

I’m still thrilled when I look at the news, seeing what’s happening in Arab nations and Iran, yet I fret for the safety of the brave men and women daring their lives for the sake of their nations’ and their children’s future. It’s great theater from our safe remove, it’s another thing entirely if you don’t know whether you’ll get Tunis or Tehran, Tahrir Square or Tiananmen Square. The impulse, I’m sure is to avoid another generation without hope; the feeling that if you have nothing, you have nothing to lose.

Which leads to the final vegetable at the bottom of this bowl of gumbo: oil. I haven’t written about peak oil lately, because the global recession has driven down demand in recent years, but as my erstwhile colleague Jeremy Leggett points out, peak oil is not a “theory.” It will happen, the only dispute is when. When it does, I hope we have humane democracies in place everywhere, because it won’t be pretty.

In what must be some unholy harmonic convergence of Middle East politics, peak oil and WikiLeaks, the UK Guardian published cables from the American embassy in Saudi Arabia from 2007, privately warning that the Saudis were overstating their oil reserves and that given a growth in demand (bear in mind, this is before the financial meltdown), real trouble could hit the oil markets as early as 2012.

On the other hand, that’s when the Mayan calendar runs out, so why worry?

© Mark Floegel, 2011

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *