Monday, August 07, 2006

Go Green

Buddy Rawls, entrepreneurial environmentalist and my upstairs neighbor, told me on the elevator ride to the first floor of our apartment building this morning that he is beginning a new venture to offer environmentally friendlier biofuels to the general public, perhaps as soon as Labor Day Weekend.

He is taking over the closed Brownlow's Service Station at 8th and Chester streets downtown (with ultra convenient Interstate 630 access) and will offer E10 ethanol for use in all vehicles as well as "Willie Nelson's" bio-diesel blend made primarily from soybean oil for diesel powered vehicles.

Buddy says the price-per-gallon will be at least competitive with regular gasoline, and perhaps cheaper since gasoline is expected to surge to over four dollars a gallon with continuing conflict in the Middle East and the shut down of the Prudhoe Bay oil field in Alaksa due to corrosion and leaking along its pipeline.

There is a slight trade-off in miles per gallon when using bio fules, since ethanol doesn't burn with quite the same energy intensity as gasoline. But, in my opinion, that is a small price to pay when considering the benefits of eliminating one's emissions of carbon dioxide and other pollutants to the atmosphere.

The opening of this station is extremely good news for the Little Rock community. I am optimistic that demand at this station will be extremely high once it is open and people become aware of its existence. Rest assured you will hear more about it from me in the future.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

30 Days

Season 2 of Morgan Spurlock's documentary television series 30 Days kicked off last week with an episode entitled "Immigration." The episode, if you missed its initial broadcast, is available as a free download for a limited time at the iTunes Music Store. The premise of the show, in case you've never seen it, or Spurlock's feature film, Super-Size Me, is that a person experiences a way of life that is different from his or her own for 30 days to see how it changes their viewpoint about his or her own way of life.

In "Immigration," a xenophobic, right-wing man (ironically, a Cuban immigrant himself) who is a member of the Minute Men Militia that patrols the U.S. border for undocumented immigrants is sent to live for 30 days with a family of undocumented immigrants from Mexico. For a good part of the episode, he clings to his viewpoint that, despite their roots in this country, the family he is living with should return to Mexico. Then, he is given the opportunity to visit his hosts' family (whom they haven't seen in about 15 years) back in Mexico to witness the extreme poverty they fled, that makes the cramped conditions in which they live in the U.S. seem like extravagant riches. The trip is an eye-opening experience for our Minuteman, but I'll leave it to you to view the program to see how deeply he is affected.

I myself was moved to tears, not just a little misty, but sobby boo-hooing, for the final segment of the program. The first season of 30 Days I thought was one of the best programs on television. The second season not only continues that tradition, but, if the first episode is any indication, improves upon it by exploring some of the deeper emotional resonances of his subjects. The disparate people Spurlock puts together in these programs, it would be easy for the program to devolve into Jerry Springer style sensationalism. But Spurlock adamantly maintains the dignity of all of his subjects. He engages the audience in a way that is genuinely educational, emotional, and entertaining. It looks like season 2 of 30 Days will also one of the best hours on television this year. Remember, you can check out "Immigration" for free for a limited time at the iTunes Music Store.