The Princess is covered in oil and the frog is dead

Like so many others, I am watching the events in the Gulf with a mix of anger and despair, though the despair is winning out; especially after I look at the photos of the effects of the oil.

I moved to Missouri because I was attracted to the very thing that BP’s oil is killing: the wildlife, the history, the culture. Especially the wildlife, though. The marshes along the Louisiana coast are some of the most amazing areas of the country—teeming with wildlife. Now? Well, the photos tell us what to expect in the future.

I am unhappy at President Obama’s handling of this mess. He seems to be unaware that we, the people of this country, needed to feel that his hand was on the rudder; that BP wasn’t completely running the show. Instead you have a stupid dog and pony show earlier this week, with Interior Secretary Salazar saying one thing and some jackass Coast Guard Admiral contradicting him. The EPA asks BP to pretty please stop using toxins in our waters, and BP’s response is no, we don’t think so. What does the EPA do in return? Nothing. Heck, it’s only been this week that the head of the EPA actually headed to the area.

All combined, we don’t have an image that our government is even aware of what’s going on, much less on top of the situation. I may be a Democrat, but I’m not blind.

After the last few weeks, I sadly come away from this event believing that our President doesn’t “get” the environment–that he’s a Harvard educated city boy who probably never ran through a field of wild grasses, or walked a bayou path. He is not connected; he doesn’t feel the pain.

Politics aside, I’m like so many people who are frustrated because there’s nothing we can do. I volunteered with every organization I can think of, but they all say the same thing: they have folks in the area who have volunteered, and they’re only looking for people who have trained to work with oil spills. So I did the next best thing and volunteered for oil spill training when the local Audubon has classes again.

Along the bird wire, everyone is agog over a bitingly satirical Twitter account, BPGlobalPR. Among the quips is the following:

We feel terrible about spilling oil in American waters, we’ll make sure the next spill happens where the terrorists live.

The humor acts as a relief valve, when the anger and the sadness begin to overwhelm. It’s difficult to laugh, though, when you contemplate the extent of the damage to the Gulf.

What this mistake has demonstrated is that we have no business drilling wells offshore. We obviously have no way to easily fix a spill when it occurs, and the potential for long term damage is enormous.

Yes, I know the alternative. I’m not a wealthy person, but I would rather pay more at the gas pump…and for food, and plastics, and everything else dependent on oil. We can’t keep destroying everything beautiful in the interest of cheap goods. We have to think beyond ourselves.


Fascinating first person account of a Mother Jones reporter trying to get past the BP controlled machine in Louisiana.

Newsweek article on BP using local government to blockade news photographers.

Video: What BP Does not want you to see.



Every day I take a large bowl of dried corn, sunflower seeds, and peanuts in the shell, and scatter the contents in the grass in front of our place. And every day, a wide assortment of squirrels and birds flock to our yard to scavenge for the food.

We get mourning doves and finches, shy cardinals, and the occasional grackle or starling. Today, a new bird came by. It had a shiny, dark blue head with a brown body, and looked somewhat like a cowbird.

It hopped about on the grass picking up pieces of broken corn, but it didn’t eat the corn. No, it held each in its beak, until pieces started falling out. It would pick up a piece, a piece would fall out. It would pick up that piece, and another would fall out. This went on for some time until the bird suddenly stopped cold, not moving a muscle. You could see the glimmer of something in its eye. Somewhere in its little head, it discovered cause and effect. No longer trying to get every last piece of corn, it was content with what it had and flew off.

Later, I took our recycling to the bins that the town road crew maintain for resident use. At the stop light, out of habit, I glanced in my rear view mirror. Behind me, in one of those tiny little mini Coopers, or whatever they are called, was this huge man stuffed into that car—hunched over the steering wheel, his head tilted down so it wouldn’t bang into the ceiling, and filling the front seat of his car like a big ass fills a tight pair of jeans.

As I watched in fascination, he picked up this absolutely enormous sandwich in one of his hands and took a monstrous bite. I could actually see the pattern of the bite; a perfect half moon shape cut deep into the bread.

The light changed just as the hand holding the sandwich began to rise again, and I continued on my errand. As I turned down the side road to the center, a gust of wind blew thousands of feathery seed pods through the air that swirled softly white around me. I don’t know what they’ll be when they sprout, but I bet they won’t be as beautiful.

JavaScript Writing

Future. Perfect.

I finished copy edits on my JavaScript Cookbook, which now enters the production process.

The first half of the book focuses on the basic components of JavaScript, while the latter half gets into the more complex material. I touch on the basic JavaScript objects, such as String and Number, but also spend a considerable amount of time covering new ECMAScript 5 and HTML5 scripting features: HTML5 drag and drop, postMessage, the Files API, worker threads, the wonderful new object methods, and so on.

I devoted one chapter to covering ARIA, Accessible Rich Internet Applications, as well as some other accessibility features. The more I work with ARIA, the more I view it as more of a rendering semantics than something purely for screen readers. For a data person like myself, ARIA is a very comfortable technology to use. I’ll have more on ARIA in later writings at MyTech.

Speaking of which, I’ve added ARIA landmarks to my web sites. Use View->Source to look for the role attribute, which is how ARIA landmarks are added. It was easy to update the Drupal templates to incorporate the new material. Unfortunately, the pages don’t validate, but I no longer care about validation. Frankly, the days of trying to code your pages to meet some validation criteria are over. Nowadays, pragmatism is the word in web development.

I am at work on my next book, but it’s not going to be for O’Reilly. Instead, I’m going to try my hand at self-publication, which is why I’m spending so much time working with ePub and other eBook formats. I’m also trying to strengthen my self-editing skills. After 18 books, I’ve become dependent on copy editors—my writing has become sloppy, and full of typos. Speaking of which, I strongly recommend, Paula LaRocque’s “The Book on Writing: The Ultimate Guide to Writing Well.” LaRocque’s book has proven invaluable as I root out my bad writing habits.