1. Iris Murdoch
Iris Murdoch was a fantastic British author who wrote 25 works of fiction and a few philosophy books, as well as some plays and poetry. My wife bought her book The Bell randomly at a thrift store a few years ago, and she has since become one of our very favorite writers. Her writing usually deal with hidden motivations, obsessions, and good and evil, and she has a way of describing people that is so rich and true that I almost can’t believe it. What would likely be a boring story from most authors is intense and exciting when she writes. For new readers, I recommend The Bell, The Unicorn, The Black Prince, A Word Child, and especially The Sea, The Sea.
I had been meaning to see this documentary for the last year or so, and I finally watched it last night. It details how the collection of natural gas from beneath American soil through the process of hydraulic fracturing (fracking) is contaminating ground water and air quality with over five hundred chemicals—many of which are known carcinogens—without any oversight from the EPA, the Clean Air/Water Act or any other kind of regulatory body that should normally have jurisdiction over this kind of process.
Basically, Dick Cheney gave companies like Halliburton (his former employer) legislative permission to circumvent all regulations that would protect the health of the environment—and by extension, that of people and livestock—to reduce our dependency on foreign oil. This kind of deregulation has already allowed for the contamination of fresh drinking water, which is generally in short supply around the world, and the industry is looking to expand from what are already hundreds of thousands of such gas wells.
There is a piece of legislation in Congress right now that would force companies to disclose what chemicals are pumped into the ground through fracking (something they don’t have to do now), but nothing has happened with the bill in over two years since it was originally introduced, and it seems to not even adequately address the problem. Well, I definitely suggest watching this if you’d like to be sickened and saddened by one little piece of what happens when there is a revolving door between the government and the boards of directors of most major companies. I feel like I could go on forever about how this relates to everything that is wrong with the world, but I’ll just say that I highly recommend it.
Remember Daria?!?!?!?!? I didn’t actually watch the show when it was on TV while I was in high school, having been one of the unlucky few without MTV, but I’ve come to love it since the release of the DVD set. Who is my favorite character, you ask? It’s Jake Morgendorffer, Daria’s dad. He is so frustrated with huge baggage from his childhood, and the way he explosively reacts to everything—followed by almost immediately forgetting why he was upset—is really amazing. I hope there are other people who appreciate the hilarious subtle nuances in every episode of Daria.
Charlie McArthur is a product designer and part of the indiepop band Bears. The third Bears album, Greater Lakes, will be released February 14, 2012 on Misra Records. If prompted, Charlie might suggest you listen to some songs or possibly even pre-order the new album at www.bearspop.com. It contains eleven solid gold hit singles.