Fire mars sky

A city in Texas is grappling with being a city in Texas, and the questions are coming in existential batches:

Making sure ITC isn’t spewing toxic fumes doesn’t require fining it out of existence. It requires a serious commitment to safety and transparency, which are sorely lacking in this state. The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality has a history of lax monitoring and enforcement. And Texas has refused to require widespread public disclosure of chemical inventories and Risk Management Plans of facilities that would improve journalists’ ability to inform the public during a crisis. A reporter who wants to see a facility’s RMP has to make an appointment with federal marshals to view it.

Patrick Jankowski, senior economist with the Greater Houston Partnership, told business reporter Jordan Blum: “We need these facilities here because it’s how we get our products to market.

Of course. But what is a booming economy without quality of life? Without peace of mind? Parents sent their children back to Deer Park and La Porte ISD schools Tuesday, but they couldn’t have felt great confidence when school officials restricted outside activities. Houston ISD took the same precaution. Good to err on the side of safety, but no parent should have to fear that just walking to school might endanger their child’s health.

Nothing that calls for fatuous comment or commentary. It’s just a situation reduced to its plainly naked reality. Companies do what they want, the public has no say. Regulations are too onerous. We need these companies here for our products. And what’s up with the air?

Literalism, and three owl feathers

Versus say, parables or allegory. Some things are naturally compelling.

Okay, fine.

Taken to its logical extreme, watching National Geographic videos about a fragmented animal kingdom run amok – punctured at its edges by people and clothing [people with desires, clothing with labels] can get one’s mind off of walking to work or growing your own vegetables, at least for a while. But what does this have to do with the price of gas?

Speaking of $3.75 per gallon, what about $7.50? I wonder if that will get people’s attention. But… the animal kingdom: if we can be compelled into getting outside more (seems natural enough), perhaps we can break the cycle facilitating our isolation, the consequences of which seem to make it so easy to rule our own lives so corruptly. You know, the home-car-work-car-home cycle allows the kind of talk radio- and t.v.-insulation against ever letting one’s foot touch anything real that bears a non-trivial relation to not letting one’s brain encounter anything similarly natural. Reducing our environment to only that which re-enforces our world view, this many of us take quite literally. These things are connected – it doesn’t take Bertrand Russell to see that.

A family of owls has taken up residence in my neighborhood over the last couple of years. Huge birds that swoop down like the night but allow themselves and their offspring to be observed quite openly before twilight. Funny thing when people start gathering outside at dusk to look up at birds in trees. The things people don’t say.

Anyway, they are the likely source of some really bizarre night sounds of late – not the hooting that sounds so fake it could be a commando signal. This was some unearthly hissing, long and sharp shreaks of hisses coming unseen from up in the leafy canopy.

I’m left to wonder if these strange calls might augur some ecological inerrancy.