Author Topic: In the New Yorker...  (Read 2131602 times)

Offline Jeff Wrangler

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Re: In the New Yorker...
« Reply #3090 on: December 06, 2022, 02:02:12 pm »
I'm working on that one now. I'm only through "J." So far it seems so good, but maybe it will start to peter out. I really liked "F," the section about the electric planes. Cape Air wants to buy 75 of them. I think it would be way cool to fly between Boston and Provincetown in one of those planes.

I'm only at D or so and I see the article isn't just kind of boring factual reporting, but contains more voice and attitude. I hate to say this because I totally understand that climate change is really important, but almost anything on the subject is going to be purely dutiful for me. That said, this piece is engaging so far.

Not to spoil it, but in the end the whole thing is depressing--as is the topic. It's like, we've already doomed our own planet, and our descendants (of which I won't have any, so maybe I'm grateful I won't have any and just hope the world doesn't collapse until after I'm dead). Even that bit about the planes ends up depressing--no way will they work in place of large airliners.
"It is required of every man that the spirit within him should walk abroad among his fellow-men, and travel far and wide."--Charles Dickens.

Offline Front-Ranger

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Re: In the New Yorker...
« Reply #3091 on: December 06, 2022, 02:04:24 pm »
I'm working on that one now. I'm only through "J." ... if you get down to the level of individual human beings, if you are a coal miner in West Virginia or an off-shore oil rig worker in Louisiana, and you lose your job because of "high electrification," what good does it do you, or your family, if a new job is created in, say, Oregon? I'm not arguing against anything here, only saying that it suddenly occurred to me that necessary changes will also come at a cost of a lot of disruption, dislocation, and even, I think, suffering at the level of the individual.

Did you see that Jake Gyllenhaal movie "October Sky" about a boy following in his WV coal-miner dad's footsteps? If so, I hope you would agree with me that it's worth the disruption of having to retrain for a different job where you don't have to spend your workdays underground in a mine breathing coal dust. That kind of career I would define as suffering. I know of programs in PA/WV that train former miners in skills like agroforestry, tourism, and farming. Former oil rig workers could become sea farmers, levee builders, or ecologists. If they wanted to stay in the oil industry, how about working for a company that refines oil from plastic trash, rather than continuing to despoil the Gulf?
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Offline Front-Ranger

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Re: In the New Yorker...
« Reply #3092 on: December 06, 2022, 02:52:25 pm »
Here's a WSJ article about a former coal mine that has now become a lavender farm:
https://www.wsj.com/articles/west-virginia-creates-jobs-farming-lavender-at-former-coal-mines-11630156974
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Offline Jeff Wrangler

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Re: In the New Yorker...
« Reply #3093 on: December 06, 2022, 04:38:59 pm »
Did you see that Jake Gyllenhaal movie "October Sky" about a boy following in his WV coal-miner dad's footsteps? If so, I hope you would agree with me that it's worth the disruption of having to retrain for a different job where you don't have to spend your workdays underground in a mine breathing coal dust. That kind of career I would define as suffering. I know of programs in PA/WV that train former miners in skills like agroforestry, tourism, and farming. Former oil rig workers could become sea farmers, levee builders, or ecologists. If they wanted to stay in the oil industry, how about working for a company that refines oil from plastic trash, rather than continuing to despoil the Gulf?

I don't disagree. That's all well and good if the new jobs are created where the people whose jobs no longer exist are located, but what if they aren't?

I simply doubt that enough new jobs will be created in a given region to replace the number of jobs lost in that region. This will cause pain and disruption, and I would bet it will fall mainly on the backs of people who are already in lower paying jobs. I simply doubt that enough new jobs can be created in West Virginia or Kentucky to employ all the people in those regions who will lose their jobs if the coal industry comes to an end.
"It is required of every man that the spirit within him should walk abroad among his fellow-men, and travel far and wide."--Charles Dickens.

Offline Front-Ranger

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Re: In the New Yorker...
« Reply #3094 on: December 06, 2022, 07:20:01 pm »
... I simply doubt that enough new jobs can be created in West Virginia or Kentucky to employ all the people in those regions who will lose their jobs if the coal industry comes to an end.

I agree that it's a daunting task. Today I read the rest of the issue and there are signs of hope here and there. Kolbert makes the point that even when the coal industry was going strong, there was still a lot of poverty and the industry struggled. Even though a person could make a good living in the unionized workforce, their work lives, bodies, and physical lifespans were stunted. A good job is only part of a good life. More is needed, leisure time, education, being in nature, and opportunities to express yourself and be creative. Being part of a community with friends and family to love and be loved. These were in short supply when the coal barons reigned.

Overall the coal industry workforce is only half of what it was at its peak. Regional economies are being transformed, but can it be done fast enough? Trump promised to put coal workers back to work but the opposite happened. Biden is promising more retraining and putting more money into it. The photo essay in the same issue "Blade Runners" shows workers going not underground but into the sky to maintain wind turbines. Where are they located? West Virginia.
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Offline Front-Ranger

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Re: In the New Yorker...
« Reply #3095 on: December 06, 2022, 07:28:25 pm »
An author we know well is mentioned in the article "Little Houses on the Prairie". Wanting to get to know the residents of the San Luis Valley, the author Ted Conover rides around in a truck offering free firewood. "In the valley, as in an Annie Proulx story, freezing to death is an ever-present possibility," the reviewer Kathryn Schulz writes.

I drive through that valley at least once a year (3X this year) and I never found it to be so impoverished. It has the reputation of producing some of the most high-quality protein-rich hay imaginable and fetches a price to match. Also, the review, and, I suspect, the book, doesn't mention any Native Americans of which there are many in that area. I don't think I'll read that book.
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Re: In the New Yorker...
« Reply #3096 on: December 06, 2022, 07:47:19 pm »
... Even that bit about the planes ends up depressing--no way will they work in place of large airliners.

The Alia, which is more like a personal jet or Hovercraft, is not meant to replace large airliners. Think of going to a small suburban airport near you, getting on an Alia with eight other passengers, and flying to Provincetown, 300 miles as the crow flies, in less than an hour. The Alia would use $40 worth of stored electricity as opposed to a conventional plane, which would use $1200 in jet fuel, 30 times more. Even though you'd have what amounts to a chartered flight, you'd pay only a fraction. And you wouldn't have to be herded to a hub somewhere, New York, Philly, or Boston, to be aggregated onto an energy guzzling airliner.
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Offline serious crayons

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Re: In the New Yorker...
« Reply #3097 on: December 06, 2022, 08:09:55 pm »
I drive through that valley at least once a year (3X this year) and I never found it to be so impoverished. It has the reputation of producing some of the most high-quality protein-rich hay imaginable and fetches a price to match. Also, the review, and, I suspect, the book, doesn't mention any Native Americans of which there are many in that area. I don't think I'll read that book.

Can't vouch for the book, and the review didn't really spark my interest. But I will say that Ted Conover is a highly regarded immersion journalist. "Newjack: Guarding Sing Sing," about being a prison guard in Sing Sing, is especially prominent (I haven't read it).

I wish Kathryn Schulz had written more on the topic of immersion journalism. It can be interesting and a great method for getting really inside stories but I have mixed feelings about it. I may be the only person in the world who disliked Barbara Ehrenreich's "Nickeled and Dimed." I wasn't impressed by an account of posing as a minimum-wage worker by someone who cooked up the idea over dinner with Harper's editor Lewis Lapham and undoubtedly had a book contract going into it. "Maid," a book by someone who was actually a maid and on welfare, was more valid, IMO.



 

Offline Jeff Wrangler

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Re: In the New Yorker...
« Reply #3098 on: December 06, 2022, 09:19:47 pm »
The Alia, which is more like a personal jet or Hovercraft, is not meant to replace large airliners. Think of going to a small suburban airport near you, getting on an Alia with eight other passengers, and flying to Provincetown, 300 miles as the crow flies, in less than an hour. The Alia would use $40 worth of stored electricity as opposed to a conventional plane, which would use $1200 in jet fuel, 30 times more. Even though you'd have what amounts to a chartered flight, you'd pay only a fraction. And you wouldn't have to be herded to a hub somewhere, New York, Philly, or Boston, to be aggregated onto an energy guzzling airliner.

That's all true, but that wasn't my point. The Alia, and similar electric planes, can't replace airliners to move large numbers of people long distances.

You can take a train from here to Boston. The train is already powered by electricity.
"It is required of every man that the spirit within him should walk abroad among his fellow-men, and travel far and wide."--Charles Dickens.

Offline Jeff Wrangler

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Re: In the New Yorker...
« Reply #3099 on: December 06, 2022, 09:23:01 pm »
An author we know well is mentioned in the article "Little Houses on the Prairie".

I laughed when I read that.  :)
"It is required of every man that the spirit within him should walk abroad among his fellow-men, and travel far and wide."--Charles Dickens.