I suppose I should be grateful that the US Congress has my back. But I know that they aren’t proposing this bill for me (because I don’t “bolster the economy” or “pay taxes” or “contribute to Super PACs”).
Anything that could potentially prohibit my silly little tunes from reaching the ears of someone who might enjoy them, especially at the behest of conglomerate media corporations, is garbage.
Sure, SOPA seems like artistic altruism, protecting inventors and writers. But the only ones it’ll end up protecting are the conglomerates who chew up and spit out the inventors and writers they profit off of.
It could potentially put an end to Twitter, Vimeo, Flickr, and many other ways we have come to love sharing and discovering honest and genuine art. Art for the sake of art… and maybe making a buck or two to pay the rent and eat a sammich a day. It’s us little guys who will be caught in the shuffle. And all I want is to play piano and hope it’ll pay for my sammich a day. mmmm, sammich. It’s almost lunch time…
Anyway. I protest the passing of SOPA, and with the full knowledge that this bill’s purpose is to “protect” my financial interest as a professional musician. If you believe that art-for-the-sake-of-art can benefit from free transfer of information on the internet, you should protest too. Wikipedia will help you, they’re blacking out their own site today in protest with information on what you can do.
In 1956 Dr. M. King Hubbert first publicized the concept of peak oil. Part of the theory is that once we obliterate the easy-to-reach oil reserves, the “low-hanging fruit,” we have to develop even more environmentally unfriendly, invasive and risky methods of obtaining oil. Since then we’ve put a man on the moon, brought down the Berlin Wall, and seen further beyond our solar system and deeper into our own planet than ever before. What humanity can learn and achieve seem limitless. Yet what humanity can forget and destroy also seem limitless.
We Americans assume that our standards for industry are the most stringent in the world (I love you America, but we are a presumptuous culture; MLB’s “WORLD Series,” for example). True, the concern is there, but there is a lack of scrutiny on all levels. Our own Minerals Management Service as recently as November 2009 argued that current safeguards were “practically foolproof.” I find the word “practically” to be nauseating given the current state of affairs in the Gulf of Mexico. Brash statements like these fly in the face of knowledge that oil rig “blowouts always happen no matter how far technology and training advance,” and that there are no foolproof safeguards to stop them. (source: NY Times) This conclusion is taken from a 2005 study by Texas A&M engineer Jerome Schubert, which was financed by BP! Now I really think I’m gonna hurl.
What can we do? Clearly we need more critical examination of drilling methods and safeguards by our government. And of course the best thing would be to move towards clean, sustainable and renewable energy sources overall. But as long as politicians have pockets, archaic energy companies will keep stuffing them with bills, so we can’t hold our collective breath for the government to rescue our planet. And as individuals we can’t always walk or bike, and most cities don’t have great public transportation. So what can we do? Boycotting BP seems at least a good start:
I was an auditor for about a year after college (turns out the hours are actually longer as a musician). As a young office drone, I had the opportunity to speak with CFO’s and controllers for some large companies in various industries. They were ordinary people – not cold heartless capitalists as we often like to envision these sorts of folks. They had pictures of their families on their desks, enjoyed a laugh, and were constantly looking forward to the end of the work day like the rest of us. However, in accounting for a public company they have a different motivation: the bottom line. It’s their fucking God, and its commandments make no mention of “Honor thy Earth” or “keep holy the planet.” As Jeffery Short at Oceana says, “ultimately it’s an investment challenge. How much money are you willing to spend on an event that happens infrequently?” (NY Times)
So again, what can we do? We CAN make an example of BP by passing up their gas stations, as well as: Castrol, Arco, Aral, am/pm, Amoco, and Wild Bean Cafe. I know, it’s tough. Yesterday I passed 3 BP stations before finding an alternative. Today… I’m walking.
Also, here’s a Facebook group you can join to spread the word against BP and another against offshore drilling in general. Yes, it seems trivial but these sorts of things might actually be used for good purpose (not just to let your friends know how you feel about Avatar).
The things we do are not isolated events. Especially with the fluidity with which information moves these days, often absurdly so, we have to be aware that we affect more than our immediate surroundings. “Here” is a variable concept; it is what we can currently see and touch, but it also spans the length of our existential reach. And because of planes, trains and blogs, this reach is deeply global. True positivity is extraordinarily difficult to maintain for long. But despite what most news sources would have you believe, there IS good in the air. Energy is real and influential, let us use it constructively, or not at all.
Together, We are hurtling through space, yet We are individually fixed to archaic ideals that keep us apart. We put holes in each other’s bodies over religion, race, resources and sneakers.
We are so fixated on the “I” that we can rationalize the destruction of “We.” We drill holes in our earth leaking oil into the sea, waste energy and agriculture, and build “too big to fail” business empires, perpetuating the disparity between wealthy and poor.
We are composed of the same elements, yet draw divisions on each other every day. We make physical appearance, manner of speech, level of education, or place of residence all reasons to remove ourselves from the We.
There needs to be a mass-realization that We are of the same origin, and it must occur on all levels – personal, governmental, commercial, spiritual, and so on. Until We learn to celebrate our differences in the spirit that We are essentially the same, We will not deserve this existence. Self-awareness is the blessing and curse of humanity. It seems impossible, yet We must at least try to put “We” ahead of “I.” We are all Mutts, and we are all Learning to Listen.
Good advice comes in unexpected places.
During a recent bout of writer’s block, I was hustling to grab some coffee and get back to the piano when this caught my eye. It made me remember that I once had to wear the corporate noose every day… So I chilled the hell out, enjoyed my coffee, took a long route back, and ended up finishing the song. Thanks to whoever donated their tie to inadvertently help me finish a new tune.