The Dilbit Disaster

The Dilbit Disaster is something I have literally never heard of before reading this book. It’s surprising, considering how this article paints it as one of the worst oil spills to hit the U.S. Perhaps it’s due to the fact that it happened so close to the BP Oil spill, but again, I am very surprised that if there was new coverage of it, that it didn’t reach me. 

I really like the use of imagery in the book to describe the oil. It’s description as being “slick” and “oozing” which are such deliciously evil terms. It’s almost as if the bitumen is given a persona. I was very anxious while reading about what had happened. We get an account of the time that the oil spill occurred, from the evening it happened to the morning that someone finally figured out that this wasn’t just some bubble in the pipes. It was so frustrating to me that no one at Enbridge ever stopped to think that maybe they should be doing their jobs instead of handing it off to the next person. And it’s great that Enbridge offered to help out the residents in the area of the disaster, but again, hey, maybe they should have mentioned that this was no ordinary crude oil spill. It really makes you think about what safety procedures other oil companies may have, or lack thereof. At some point the oil was in danger of spilling into Lake Michigan, which is used as drinking water for millions of people, and still Enbridge kept silent. That’s so messed up! 

The article really opened my eyes to how ill prepared we are for problems that we cause. Sure there was a team of specialists in Marshall trying to help out, but they had no clue as to what they were dealing with or what the long term effects were. Something that has been running in the pipes near a city for years, and they had no idea what the risk would be if it were exposed to humans for an extended period of time. Recently, there’s been some talk of a Keystone XL pipeline being proposed to carry bitumen. Wheres before, I had no strong opinions on the matter, now I am fuming. I strongly oppose the idea of the risk of another Dilbit Disaster. If the long term effects are unknown, and the prevention methods aren’t working properly, why would anyone approve of this? Is money that much more important than the environment or other people’s lives? It’s sickening.

If I were to ask the authors one thing, it would be how they came up with the idea to cover this story. From what I understand, there really wasn’t any coverage on what happened in Marshall, Michigan, so how did they hear about it? I would also like to know if they did this article partly because of the proposed Keystone Xl pipeline. Was the motive to get people to be vocal about opposing it? And if so, did they think it worked? It did for me, but I am hesitant to say that many other people have read this.

 

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Jon Stewart’s Take on Fox News

The Daily Show is one of my favorite shows. It’s always a treat to see Jon Stewart take apart someone’s point by throwing back what they have said in their faces. Such is the case here with Fox News. This is a classic example of the fifth estate being used. Jon Stewart makes fun of the way Fox News has handled the protests in 2009 and the (then) recent presidency, considering their stance on such things not too long ago. By calling them the new liberals, he not only uses a term that conservatives see as negative but also highlights the fact that by switching stances they have undermined their own point about sticking with the president and seeing the “big picture”.

That being said, both Fox News and The Daily Show’s audiences used selective exposure when picking which program to watch. The audience wants to watch something that they agree with. The Daily Show audience are mainly liberals, and so The Daily Show interprets that the conservatives are being whiny and hypocritical about being in the minority when it comes to reporting. They are catering to their audience the same way that Fox News is catering to theirs. The irony here is that according to Fox, they are the most watched News channel in the U.S. Of course Fox is going to make very opinionated statements – it’s what people want to hear. The Daily Show isn’t any different in that aspect for claiming that Fox is now liberal. (Of course, this is a satirical statement, but it’s still an outrageous claim.)

I always find it a little sad when people claim that the way they get their news is better than another person’s. There’s no “right” news, there’s news you agree with and news you don’t agree with. All news is biased, and they’re all biased because we as an audience love to hear someone agree with us and enforce opinions we have. It’s just how we are. I love the Daily Show, but I’m aware that using clips out of context is a little bit like cheating. Of course, this isn’t going to drive me to watch Fox News in any way shape or form, but at least I’m aware of the fact that not everything is this or that.

Breaking Bad Episode 1

Breaking Bad is either one of those shows that you’re watching, or are planning to watch, or are avoiding like the plague because it has overtaken everyone’s lives like some sort of weird, alien illness. I’ve tried watching it before, but couldn’t seem to find the time. Re-watching the first episode, I remember how fast paced everything was, and how silly I felt for forgetting that seriously cool opening.

The first part of the episode is just a series of events that makes the audience feel increasingly sympathetic towards Walter. He works two jobs, he’s forced to deal with obnoxious students, and then later we find out that he has terminal lung cancer. He represents the regular Joe Schmo, and it’s just sad to watch so many unfortunate things happen to such a regular guy who hasn’t done anything to deserve it. He didn’t even smoke!

I feel like the directors wanted the audience to feel this way to justify Walter’s later actions. He is in desperate need of money, and desperate times call for desperate measures. The show would not have been as good if Walter was shown to be a cold, calculating criminal in the beginning (though from some of the trailers I’ve seen, this almost seems to be the case in the later seasons).  He needs a believable motive, and he needs the audience to be on his side when he does start cooking meth. One of my favorite scenes is when his wife, Skylar,  asks Walt how his day was after he had been told about his terminal cancer, and you can see the inner struggle on his face about keeping silent or telling her. He decides not to, and it’s evident that he loves his family too much to trouble them.

The look on Jesse’s face was absolutely priceless when Walt propositioned him. Their relationship throughout the episode is one that resembles a disinterested student and an eccentric teacher, which probably mirrors what they were like before. I love the fact that while the show has a darker tone, Jesse quickly becomes our comic relief. I also love that Walt’s new sense of purpose drives him to become more assertive, such as when Walt trips a guy for making fun of his son’s disability or suddenly creating an RV death trap for Emilio and Crazy 8’s. He has nothing to lose, so he goes all out. That’s what changes him from a Joe Schmo to an interesting character.

The only thing that bothered me about the episode was when the DEA find Jesse’s partner but not Jesse. They’re looking for “Cap’n Cook” but just so happen to ignore the fact that the license plate on one of the cars parked in the area is literally “The Capn”. It just seems exceedingly stupid and unlikely that that would happen. Granted, this is television, so I’m not too bothered by the fact that it’s unrealistic.

Overall, Breaking Bad is one of the most acclaimed shows on television today, and for good reason. It’s well-written, it’s fast paced, and it’s interesting. I will definitely give this show another go one of these days (if I can avoid the spoilers).

Rating: 5/5