Thursday Oct 8th 2009

save money imagesKPOJ's Carl Wolfson and Christine Alexander filling in...

Hour One: New Supreme Court session with cases to be reviewed with Stephen Kanter

Hour Two: His latest documentary - The National Parks: America's Best Idea with Ken Burns

Hour Three - "In Cheap We Trust" Author Lauren Weber stops by to tell the story about this 'misunderstood American virtue'


Mark (not verified) 13 years 25 weeks ago

In cheap we trust? Is that why we are happy to import goods from China and other Asian countries, and let countries south of the border be the scapegoat to absorb all our anger over loss of jobs?

At the end of Wednesday’s show, Thom hastily mentioned that one possible reason that we may remain in Afghanistan for an indeterminate amount of time is that we want to get our hands on its untapped resources. I wrote here last week that this isn’t a practical excuse for us to remain. For one thing, its major untapped resources are natural gas and coal (not oil), which we already have in abundance, and in the case of natural gas, its export potential would remain largely a regional commodity. There are mineral resources including high-grade iron ore and copper in the mountains of Afghanistan, but the dearth of Afghans with the needed skills, the lack of infrastructure (governmental or otherwise), the difficult terrain and constant conflicts between factions (to say nothing of our efforts to alienate as many people there as we can) has prevented projects that might have properly developed these resources. Outside of natural gas, Afghanistan exports almost no mineral resources at all, save maybe on the black market; what was “mined” has been used to finance inter-tribal warfare over the years.

The question then is are we there to stabilize the country enough to develop mining operations ourselves? The former Soviet Union tried to do it, and were unsuccessful, and they had more technical resources readily available. I rather doubt that the Bush administration coveted the country’s resources because of the additional cost it would entail (not to mention causing an international backlash if resource looting was our true purpose there), or else it would have made a more concerted effort to develop the Afghanistan’s infrastructure. We are, after all, about to pull out of Iraq, having done little of what we promised to do on the ground.

DRichards (not verified) 13 years 25 weeks ago

Refine, baby, refine...oh, nevermind

Whenever people were complaining about the price of gasoline over the last 5 or 6 years -- i.e., every time they pulled into a service station -- you always heard the same refrain. Which was that the real culprit wasn't the Saudis or the Russians or Dick Cheney or too many Hummers. The real problem -- that no one ever paid attention to, they said -- was that America needs more refineries.

Here's a typical story from 2004:

There are plenty of reasons gas costs so much, but one of them is that the United States doesn't have enough refineries. The National Petrochemicals and Refiners Association says that the last new refinery built in the United States was Marathan Ashland's Garyville, La., plant—and it was completed in 1976. According to this report, between 1999 and 2002 refining capacity in the United States rose only 3 percent, squeezing up prices since demand grew much faster than that. Who's to blame for the fact that refining supply can't keep up with our thirst for oil? Probably you.

Really? OK, then explain to me how this is my fault:

In a major attempt to cope with slumping global demand for fuel and a dismal profit outlook, Sunoco Inc. said yesterday it was indefinitely idling its Eagle Point oil refinery in Gloucester County and slashing its dividend in half.

The Eagle Point shutdown, which could turn out to be permanent if market conditions fail to improve, is scheduled to start today and is expected to take four to six weeks to complete. About 400 employees will be furloughed, with the option of taking severance packages.

The 145,000-barrel-per-day refinery is on the Delaware River opposite South Philadelphia.

Uh, drill, baby, drill...? Actually, I just noticed today, for the first time in months, a station selling gas for under $2.45 a gallon, so I guess it was time for the oil companies to do something to reduce the supply. Or who even knows if refining capacity was really the problem they said it was, as recently as last year. Two great ex-Philadelphia investigative reporters, Donald Barlett and Jim Steele, won a Pulitzer Prize in the mid-1970s for showing how oil companies manipulated supplies and prices during the first great crisis -- you don't suppose that could happen again, do you. My condolences to 400 hard-working local people who lose their jobs amid Sunoco's -- pardon the mixed metaphor -- shell games.

B Roll (not verified) 13 years 25 weeks ago

I heard about an interesting book today.

The Vegetarian Myth: Food, Justice, and Sustainability
by Lierre Keith

My understanding is that, despite the title, the critique is more about agriculture and how it ruins top soil. She uses a term, which she may have coined, "fossil soil" referring to the fact that like oil our topsoil is the product of the long history of this planet.

She does have several critiques of vegetarianism which I think may be the source of some of the controversy around the book.

DRichards (not verified) 13 years 25 weeks ago

Scalia Defends Cross On Public Land, Claims It Represents Everyone

Read more at:

B Roll (not verified) 13 years 24 weeks ago

Interesting! Carl Wolfson mentioned two Democrats who ran for the Democratic Party nomination for President and whose birthdays are today, Dennis Kucinich and Jesse Jackson.

Christine Alexander's response was to say "Happy Birthday Dennis" after Carl mentioned his name but said nothing after Carl mentioned Jesse Jackson's name.

B Roll (not verified) 13 years 24 weeks ago

Ken Burns is extremely popular and has made some excellent programs. However, he has upset many Latinos by leaving out their contributions out of his series “The War” and “Jazz”.

Latinos play a major roll in the military of the U.S. and, may be the highest the most decorated ethnic group in the military. They played a large roll in WWII. Latin jazz was and is a major part and influence in jazz.

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Hello All

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From Cracking the Code:
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to understand how to respond when they’re talking about public issues with coworkers, neighbors, and friends. This book explores some of the key perspectives behind his approach, teaching us not just how to find the facts, but to talk about what they mean in a way that people will hear."
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