Last week I watched a riveting  documentary on HBO: Gasland.

If you have HBO, you should watch it On Demand.  Its the story of how natural gas drilling is wreaking havoc on the environment and destroying communities throughout the country.  In a process call “fracking” (which is just a perfect term for any BSG fans), the companies pump huge amounts of nasty, toxic chemicals underground to help get the natural gas out.  Not surprisingly, those nasty, toxic chemicals get into people’s water.  If you haven’t clicked the video above, you really need to just to see water coming out of a faucet catch on fire.

The ongoing thought I had while watching this movie was “how could this happen in America.”  The government seems entirely unwilling to listen as companies simply go in and absolutely destroy the water supply where people live.  It really struck me as something you’d expect to see in some third world dictatorship where people have little recourse against corrupt government and industry.  Depressing.

Apparently, this has become much worse since the 2005 energy bill (e.g., Dick Cheney’s energy bill) exempted companies involved in fracking from the clean water act.  That’s right– the companies pouring tons and tons of highly toxic chemicals into the water table don’t have to abide by the clean water act.  There’s a bill currently in Congress to end this exemption, but, alas, it appears to be stuck in committee.  I really don’t see how anybody can seriously argue that corporations don’t have absurdly undue influence in American life and politics.

Anyway, you should watch it.  And get mad.  And maybe even write your member of Congress.

Paranoid parents

You know I’m a sucker for variations on the “myths and realities” theme.  I particularly enjoyed this NPR story about what parents are scared of versus what they should be scared of.  Not really all that many surprises, but interesting nonetheless.  Here’s the list:

Based on surveys Barnes collected, the top five worries of parents are, in order:

  1. Kidnapping
  2. School snipers
  3. Terrorists
  4. Dangerous strangers
  5. Drugs

But how do children really get hurt or killed?

  1. Car accidents
  2. Homicide (usually committed by a person who knows the child, not a stranger)
  3. Abuse
  4. Suicide
  5. Drowning

I think the first 4 fears could basically be summed up as “fear a bad person who is a stranger is going to hurt your child.”  Why such a prevalent fear?  Seems pretty obvious… A kid harmed by a sniper or “dangerous stranger” gets all over the news; the kid who drowns or commits suicide– not so much.   I wonder if parents with attractive, white daughters are more afraid of a stranger kidnapping or murder, as they are the ones who get wall-to-wall coverage on cable news.   I think it’s also similar to the idea that most people are much more afraid of plane crashes than car crashes.

Personally, when I start to worry about any stranger danger in regards to my own kids, I remind myself that in the 10+ years I’ve been a parent, there’s never been a story about a stranger murder or kidnapping in the local area (i.e., media market) where I live.  The simple truth is my kids are surely at much more risk from me driving them to a park, than from some bad person harming them when I turn my back for a minute at the park.  Of course, though, I actually need to remind myself of that fact.

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