Monday, May 17, 2010

The Human Stain On Nature: BP's Gulf Oil Spill

Anyone who has ever denied the need for better human stewardship of our world no longer has any room to talk. Few things have infuriated me more in recent years than the slow and inadequate response to BP's oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. To not have the mechanisms in place to stop something like this immediately is a demonstration of the gross irresponsibility humans have displayed in taking care of the world we live in.

The Gulf of Mexico may take YEARS (if ever) to fully recover from this kind of damage. Don't believe me? Here's an article). Not to mention the devastating effects that something like this has on the already fragile wildlife in the area. Oh, and did I mention that the economies of the already weakened gulf cities are experiencing a negative effect as well? I don't need to, these are things that anybody who has turned on the news knows full well.

This is a disaster. Plain and simple.

So I guess my frustration comes here: WHAT IS TAKING SO LONG? BP has spent so much time trying to shirk responsibility for this disaster, regardless of their "acceptance" of the financial costs. Someone has to take the blame, BP. It's you! A quicker response to this problem (let alone a far more comprehensive contingency plan already set in place for such disasters) may have stopped this a lot sooner.

I do not claim to be an environmental expert, and my knowledge of economics and corporate law is encompassed entirely in a liberal arts degree. I'm not an expert, but I am a citizen of this United States who is frustrated by my inability to do ANYTHING whatsoever to stop this disaster from growing while the powers that be sit idly by.

We cannot continue to live in a world so obsessed with our right to resources that we continue to abuse the natural world we live in. And that's the truth.

Oh, and in case you haven't seen it, THIS is what an oil flow looks like:

Book Review: The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon

It's been a few months now since I've finished this book, and I simply hadn't had the chance until now to sit down and give it a proper review. I suppose this is a benefit to the book because, upon reflecting on it, I now see more clearly what I enjoyed about it.

I think what I enjoyed most was Joe Kavalier. I had read Chabon before, and I was frustrated with his ability to create an interesting character and make me bored of hearing about them. I never got bored of Joe. If anything, I always felt like the narration was hiding something about Joe, some key to understanding his motivations that went well beyond the basics of missing his family and loving art. It's never revealed, but the depth of his emotions is implied, leaving the reader an opportunity to analyze his motivations through the prism of any combination of Joe's personal history, revealed throughout the arc of the narrative.

I'm glad I gave Chabon a second chance. Reading "The Yiddish Policeman's Union" first left a bitter taste in my mouth that Chabon doesn't deserve...I couldn't have been convinced before that he was capable of a book like this, and now I'm a convert, intent on reading another of his works soon. I really enjoyed how this book deigned to span the expanses of time, place, and historicity that make other favorite books of mine (Middlesex, Everything Is Illuminated) so engaging. Chabon has a gift for diction and syntax that makes his work beautiful to read.

My criticisms of the book are mainly the following two points. One: I'm still not convinced of Chabon's ability to write an effective female character. I didn't always believe in Rosa's motivations or emotions, she seemed limited by the male viewpoint. I realize that it might be hard for someone so adept at creating intriguing men to understand the differences necessary for female thought, but Chabon should be able to shoulder that burden with the same tact and attention to detail that he gives to creating a historical landscape for his works. Your women have to be real, not comic book caricatures of what you think a female ought to be like.

The second was the comic book referencing. Chabon's intention may have been to color the story with a deep well of knowledge that contributes to realism. He very likely did a tremendous amount of research for this book and this is commendable. But you know what? I don't want to see that research, at least not directly. His obsession with showing off his comic book knowledge and excessive use of comic book reference seems a lot like hammering in superfluous garbage for the sake of looking cool. You like comic books, you know a lot about them, we get it. We don't need you to tell us again because all that is doing is distracting from the charming and beautiful story you already have in front of you.

I can't think of many people who wouldn't enjoy this book, and I would be inclined to recommend it to anyone. My only advice is to stick it out after it slows down 100 pages in. It'll be worth it.

This review was reposted and expanded from my review at Good Reads. Oh, you love reading and reviewing books, too? Join! We can be friends!