Sex, hope, and rock and roll

by Michael Bérubé on May 16, 2011

Somewhere between the end of my spring semester at Penn State on April 29 and the beginning of my month-long guest-teaching gig at Cornell College in Mt. Vernon, Iowa (founded over a decade before that Johnny-come-lately Cornell in upstate New York) on May 2, I found some time to speak at <a href=””>this totally awesome conference on the work of Ellen Willis</a>.  Just glad to be on the bill, you know.  Anyway, here’s a slightly expanded version of what I said that morning.  Why slightly expanded?  Because I’m including 15 percent more of Ellen Willis’s prose, which makes my remarks 15 percent better.  That is why.

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Fascinating article in the British paper the Independent about the US anti-immigrant border fence and the fact that in parts of Texas engineering considerations have put 50,000 acres of US territory on the Mexican side of the fence. For those who live in this pocket, life doesn’t sound much fun:

… this corner of south-eastern Texas had its barrier constructed on a levee that follows a straight line from half a mile to two miles north of the river, leaving Ms Taylor’s bungalow – along with the homes and land of dozens of her angry neighbours – marooned on the Mexican side. “My son-in-law likes to say that we live in a gated community,” she says, explaining that to even visit the shops she must pass through a gate watched over by border-patrol officers. “We’re in a sort of no man’s land. I try to laugh, but it’s hard: that fence hasn’t just spoiled our view, it’s spoiled our lives.”

(via @PhillCole on twitter, x-posted from the Territory and Justice blog, which I’m going to be breathing some new life into. )

Reasons to be cheerful, Part I

by John Q on May 16, 2011

There are plenty of reasons to be gloomy about the prospects of stabilising the global climate. The failure at Copenhagen (partly, but far from wholly, redressed in the subsequent meeting at Cancun) means that a binding international agreement, let alone an effective international trading scheme, is a long way off. The political right, at least in English-speaking countries, has deepened its commitment to anti-science delusionism. And (regardless of views on its merits) the prospect of a significant contribution from nuclear power has pretty much disappeared, at least for the next decade or so, following Fukushima and the failure of the US ‘nuclear renaissance’.

But there’s also some striking good news. Most important is the arrival of ‘peak gasoline’ in the US. US gasoline consumption peaked in 2006 and was about 8 per cent below the peak in 2010. Consumption per person has fallen more than 10 per cent.
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