Here in Valier this last week we hosted a Tar Sands mega-load overnight. They are forbidden to travel in the daytime because they effectively shut off the roads as they pass. They are also opposed by activists who do not want the Tar Sands developed for ecological reasons. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/09/business/global/leak-at-oil-sands-project-in-alberta-heightens-conservationists-concerns.html?_r=0
A whole economy has developed around this project, including a “virtual” university with press that publishes fine ebooks for FREE. If you don’t read any further, take the time to watch this series of vids: http://www.aupress.ca/index.php/books/120137?show=videoTabArea I cannot publish with this press because I ran athwart of them when they were running the University of Calgary Press and accepted “Bronze Inside and Out,” but demanded secrecy in certain matters, which I did not provide. I forgive them everything because of the terrific job they did with “Imagining Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump.” Free is a very good price. But if you watch these vids at the press website, you will hear that the buffalo jump people had to fight hard through UNESCO to keep a power line from being built right through the site.
Back to the oversize load. About a city block long and peculiarly penile, the thingamajig is as tall as a two-story house. The view from behind the little one-room buildings -- that may have been homestead claim shacks -- across the street from where the thing was parked give an idea of size. With the white covering on it, it is a remarkable opportunity for graffiti, but there is a guard who won’t let you walk very close. He seems cheerful and friendly but he’s armed.
Now I’ll seem like I’m changing the subject, but I’m not because the subject is even bigger than oversize loads. A couple of decades ago I went to a workshop about exotic animal law that was sponsored by Lewis & Clark law school. It was about importing snakes and tigers, etc. Someone on a panel there said that the real action now is NOT in framing up laws. That’s too public, too available for comment and specialized scrutiny, too general and principle-based. The category to target, he said, is regulations. Those are administrative decisions and definitions that get down to basics, like the budget. Almost anything can be controlled this way regardless of what the law says. (Of course, if you’re big enough you can even control what the Supreme Court will decide -- just as we have been warned and warned but never quite believed until Al Gore suffered the consequences.)
So, some years ago there began to be a little flurry of surveying along the local roads, particularly along the routes the oversized loads would follow. Some slumps, some narrow turns, suddenly seemed to demand rebuilding -- all before the public knew anything about oversized loads. The guys who had been begging for improvement because they travel that road to work were pleased at the sudden change of heart and may have even thought their pleas did the job.
The big rallying cry, as was the case with the MATL high-capacity electrical lines that systematically condemned private property in order to make their rows of poles straight, was that the country needed the energy and we locals needed the money. When local people successfully blocked the condemnations in court, the corporations simply “influenced” the legislature to change the law on which the verdict was based. If using a law that was pre-existing legislation is a “grandfather” law, what relative is a law passed for the convenience of the corporate future? I’d say an ugly stepchild.
Now my attention is attracted by a little three-inch story in the GF Trib noting that Philip Anschutz of Denver, a billionaire, not only owns Anschutz Exploration Corporation, which has just been either (according to whom you ask) been thrown off its rez drilling leases for nonpayment or has withdrawn because of failing to locate enough oil to make the effort pay off -- in spite of 14 exploratory wells and analysis of of multiple hydrocarbon-bearing reservoirs. They have left their abandoned drilling sites unamended as the contracts required. If I were writing a novel right now, I’d mention unexplained deaths.
But another subsidiary of Anschulz -- Xanterra Parks and Resorts, Inc. -- has secured the concessions monopoly for Glacier Park. They already hold the concessions for Yellowstone National Park, Zion, and the Grand Canyon. I’m not talking about popcorn stands: these “concessions” are the huge lodges built by the Hill family when the railroad reached the Rockies. I’m suspicious. Glacier Park’s season is very short. It has never been a winter park because the weather is too severe. There are legal questions about the original acquisition of the Park -- the Blackfeet sold it cheap due to starvation caused by the failure of the commodities due according to the treaty to ever arrive.
Constantly I read about permits mysteriously required, applications lost, inspections neglected, sudden erections of things like the cell tower that went up overnight in Valier after years of delay. It was controversial in the beginning. (Not whether to put it up but on whose land.) There are not enough employees for almost any oversight or regulatory agency except the homeland security people and yet we have continuing problems with contaminated food, bad bridges, unregistered sex offenders, uninvestigated child abuse complaints, and so on.
On the internet, aside from lapses of electricity or infrastructure and big node function (clouds), desperation for money means that the NYTimes limits me to ten articles and then demands that I pay. I note the topic, google it, and read it at the source the NY Times got it from. YouTube imposes the most obnoxious ten and thirty-second advertisements possible, so I just drop the link. The topics are never as compelling as the come-on -- most of the time they’re so trivial that I’m embarrassed to wait for them. One used to be able to zap the ad, but no more. In fact, sometimes the screen is frozen until you surrender your VISA number. Just cut the electricity at your spike bar.
For a year Netflix has been telling me that my email address is bad, but they’ve been sending me emails all along. Google keeps demanding my smart phone link, but I don’t have a smart phone. I have one old-fashioned land line with big buttons so I can see them. iTunes refuses to present (streaming WFMT) what I need in a form I can understand, insisting that I must use some “magic” step that has no explanation. It’s for kids. Most of the stuff is for kids. TED and The Edge.net are my only refuges -- plus all the H-lists, bless them.
This looks to me like the nose of a camel trying to get into the tent. I've subscribed to AlJazeera.
The Panthers are Valier High School's sports mascot.