No Offshore Drilling; where’s my nuclear car??

Time to set the record straight:  whatever, whichever politician said that gas prices are not coming down was right.  Offshore drilling is a good idea, but it will not bring gas prices down.

Now don’t get me wrong.  I’m all for drilling for oil in our own backyards.  When I first moved out to California, I was enchanted by all of those oil derricks pumping, pumping away in the beautiful hills of Huntington Beach, down along the beach paths and even on the beach dunes themselves.  It made California look like the golden El Dorado that I had always imagined: golden roads lined with cool-looking cars and all of the oil we needed right under our feet.  And yes, I was also expecting bikini-clad girls to pump my gas and sell me my milk from those roadside milk stands (I saw pictures of this put out by the Orange County Chamber of Commerce).  I’m sure the girls and the pumping action of the derricks was some sort of Freudian juxtaposition that made me drive out to California all the faster.

So why don’t I support the drilling now?? Because once the oil is out of the ground, it is immediately put out on the international market where China can bid on it, along with every other gas-thirsty country that is finally making its way out of the Third World.  We would be competing with them for our own gas.  And make no mistake about it: it’s our gas.  It is coming out on nationally-owned areas (offshore or the ANWR in Alaska)  and the oil companies are getting a low-risk, fantastic return on investment.  If that is the case, they can afford to lose a little bit of profit by selling that gas DOMESTICALLY, ONLY.  Does that sound socialistic, the first hints of nationalized gas production?? You bet your sweet light-crude that it does!!  But if you’re going to drill in my backyard, and I own the land and mineral rights, you have better pay me off by at least selling me the oil at a domestically-competitive price.

But I’m also realistic.  Using oil to power our cars is a technological dead-end.  With all of the Chinese, Indian, Polish, Russian, etc. etc.  economies finally coming out of the Dark Ages and increasing the number of privately owned cars, we are going to be running out of oil soon (peak oil production).   So where’s my nuclear-powered car??  If all of those Disney documentaries in the 1950’s promised plenty of energy in the future, how come I have to use my bicycle to go to the library and to the store??

The anwer of course is that we can’t trust the average person to drive a quarter of critical mass around in their engines, waiting for some terrorist to figure out that (4) times (1/4)  equals (1).  Boom.   And I can hardly imagine the bad traffic created when the radioactive cleanup team cleans up the pieces from your average 4 accidents per freeway per day. 

We need to use nuclear power to generate the electricity to provide the hydrogen to run the cars.  Simple enough, please give me my new-model 2010 hydrogen-fueled SUV.  In Earth-Friendly Green,  of course.  And feel free to stick as many oil-sucking straws in the California Offshore until then. 

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Musings on The Golden Compass

Well, it’s no secret that I was not a big fan of the movie “The Golden Compass” even before it came out.   I knew that it was derived from a book of the same name, which was part of a trilogy written by Philip Pullman, a self-described atheist.   There was also the fact that the series is known as His Dark Materials trilogy, and that there was a running thread in the books that was anti-religious.   I don’t have a problem with that, but I did have a problem with God being terminated by the series’ young protagonists in book 3.  Pretty intense stuff for a children’s series.

But there’s a couple of things that merit a revisit to this movie.  One is the fact that I was a big fan of “The Chronicles of Narnia”  which is a series that is an unabashedly pro-Christian allegory1.  I did not want to favor one point of view without giving a chance to its opposite.  There was the fact that I don’t want to dismiss an entire series based on hearsay.  Finally, there’s the fact that Roger Ebert had given the movie 4 stars.   I had to check this movie out.

I recently had the opportunity to view the DVD of the movie recently, and I can see why Mr. Ebert admired its production values; they are exquisite.

silver gallery

The concepts were brilliantly illustrated on the screen, and as Roger writes “As a visual experience, it is superb.”

carriage

But I cannot recommend the movie.  As beautiful as it is to behold, it failed its first test when one of my kids asked me when the movie was going to be over.  This is the equivalent of the dreaded looking-at-your-watch syndrome while watching a movie at the theatre.  Now, I’ve been in movies that are slow moving and require extreme patience, so a measured pace has never bothered me.  My issues with the movie lie elsewhere.

Spoilers follow:

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  1. see my previous article http://www.crackteam.org/2006/04/23/its-obvious-episode-1-narnia-for-dummies/ []