Friday, July 11, 2008

Nyquil! Nyquil! Alarm ignoring
Thief of yet another morning,
What immoral hand or eye
Could frame thy fearful chemistry?

--- William Blake, 1794. Groggy. Late for work. Like me.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Less Nukes, More Navels

Already I'm letting myself down: reneging on my passion for navel-gazing, this is as close as I think I'll have time to come today: the bit part I'll be playing at tonight's press conference on a proposed nuclear reactor in Callaway County. (To make sure I get people’s attention before “speeching,” I’m trying to come up with a song to play on the kazoo as an intro. Suggestions?) …. :

Over the next year or so, Ameren UE will undoubtedly go to great lengths – I’m sure they will tonight – to convince us that nuclear power is on the right side of our worldwide environmental crisis. In effect, they’re going to pitch this new nuclear reactor as “green” energy – as a viable way to solve the problem of climate change, and thereby make Missouri and the world a better place.

That, friends, will have to be quite a pitch.

Tonight I urge you not to be fooled: recognize a curve-ball when you see one. Another Nuke in Missouri would not be a part of our environmental solution, but a giant part of the problem. Leaving aside our growing – and entirely unsolved – nuclear waste issue, and the fact that nuclear power is increasingly dependent on fossil fuels for its production, we still have the question of nuclear power’s staggering cost – and this may be the greatest environmental concern of all.

In short, the six billion dollars – or maybe seven, or eight, or nine – that Ameren U.E. wants to spend on this reactor would be far better spent toward renewable energy use, home weatherization, and other steps toward conservation. If we’re looking at what is good not for Ameren UE, but for the state of Missouri, for the people of Missouri, and for our fragile climate, nuclear power is simply not the way to go.

As even conservative estimates by Rocky Mountain Institute and others have shown, dollar for dollar, nuclear energy is seven times less effective solving our climate crisis than would be the implementation of simple measures in energy conservation. And heaven knows, with skyrocketing energy costs and climate change looming, this is not the time to let our utility companies spend our money willy-nilly. We cannot forget that we do not answer to Ameren U.E. Ameren U.E. answers to us. And it’s time to take a stand as a state – like we successfully did over 30 years ago – to tell them that here in Missouri, we have our eyes set on renewable energy and sustainable living; not on nuclear waste and wasteful spending.

I’m thinking of a patriotic piece, like “Battle Hymn of the Republic.” My history’s not the best, but I think it was first written for kazoo. Any confirmation on that?

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

One More Hopeful Beginning, God Help Me

I mean, come on. Law? Suit and tie? Seriously?

It would seem so. Up until a few weeks before Christmas, I hadn’t even known the word existed in bold, much less that Law could graduate to fourteen font, and so quickly.

Then came the ambush: in November, void of warning, law crept up from scant shadows within me, crouched with all that plaque behind my teeth for the opportune time, and WHAM – wildly clawed its way out of my mouth like a genie from some B-grade bottle. And try though I might, no amount of wishes made it go back home again.

And so, for the last eight long months, said genie has pulled up a chair to every dinner, played with the cactus on my desk while I worked, heckled me in my sleep, tangled my sheets.

I was going to be a lawyer. “Do law.” "Try cases," or whatever the hell it is that lawyers do. And for $35k a year (average salary of a starting public interest lawyer), I wouldn’t be one of those lawyers. Not a shiny black BMW lawyer. Not a soul-seller. Nay, I’d be one of those rare gray-ponytailed types who litigated on behalf of God’s Green Earth or refugee kittens. I’d litigate for truth, peace and understanding. I’d litigate that some iconic white person and some iconic black person would hold hands for a photo-shoot, and then I would litigate the photographer into cropping the image down to just the hands and wrists, which, finally on the cover of Reader’s Digest, would shock the world into serenity. This was the kind of lawyer I would be. Granted, what that would look like – you know, on the ground – was fuzzy.

But now, has law too run its course?

It wouldn’t be the first time – it’s most certainly not the first genie. After fifteen years of calm certainty that I was to be, unquestionably, a writer, my twenties have been one carpetbagging genie after another. First I was a writer/folk musician. Then a folk musician/writer. Just a musician. Or maybe a travel writer. No, an English professor. Theologian. Episcopal priest. Grubby activist. …. Public interest Lawyer.

And that brings us back to doe. Or, well, almost.

Four days ago, Jen and her hubby, the lawyer-hero of the underprivileged himself, relaxed in the grass of the newly minted Forrest Rose Park, listening to the Carolina Chocolate Drops and making quick work of barbecue chicken. The only thing that could've ruined this 4th of July was fireworks; all was perfect, good and right. But then, staring into town, Jen lazily asked the bombshell question: “If you could do anything here in Columbiaanything – what would you do?”

My left-field answer surprised us both, but shouldn’t have. “I’d write.”

My dream since I was six years old keeps hanging on. But am I still too chicken to live it out in fourteen font?