People with awful jobs often have great senses of humor. Try hanging out with some longtime jail guards or social workers and getting them talking. They’ve seen it all, man, and they just have to laugh about it. If you’re at a conference of psychiatrists, crash the “forensics” table: the docs that deal with really sick violent people all day. The probability is high you’ll have a blast — while over at the “therapists to the healthy and alienated” table, that p fast approaches zero.
That’s what I was thinking this week as I read through recent entries at two surprisingly entertaining sites about economics. My reading was part of bottleworld’s little public service project: a completely unfair and unasked-for review of the environmental blogosphere. (See this link for a mostly complete list of blogs reviewed; today I’m giving highlights from titles roughly E-H.)
Environmental and Urban Economics is written by an economist interested in green issues. I don’t understand many of the references to economic theory here, but it’s clear there’s an admirable wit and informality at work. I like it. Environmental Economics covers the same territory, with less rambling and a bit more focus on the news of the day.
An even more dismal job than economist is “corporate blogger.” If there is anything that my thankless slogging through this week’s slough of verbiage has taught me, it’s that blogging is all about having a personal voice, and corporations are not persons, no matter what the US Supreme Court says.
Corporations (for-profit or not) want a corporate voice, one that won’t offend the client market, one that will continue to cultivate the customer/donor/etc. It’s no wonder that blogs I read from Greenpeace, the Union of Concerned Scientists, and the Jane Goodall Institute were strangely uninspiring despite some positive qualities.
One exception is Compass from the usually missionary-style Sierra Club. In one way it’s fairly standard blog fare — links to tidbits of environmental news and stories on other blogs — but there are two secrets to its success: blogger Pat Joseph keeps his linksmithing short and sweet, and more important, actually retains a personal point of view. Pat’s first post seems to have been about a year ago. With the site just past its first birthday..
..the open question is, how long can this innocence survive?
Another site that thrives on personality is Siel’s Green LA Girl. She’s unabashed in her consumerism, often focused on the L.A. region. Though she’s more likely to be buying ecosensitive shoes than deciding NOT to buy anything (which is probably the more ecosenstive choice, frankly), her boundless energy counts for a lot. Sometimes she posts several times a day. Still she’s no mere link hound, trolling the Internet for fodder. She’s actually willing to get out there and talk to people and find out stuff. If that sounds strange, you’ve been on the Internet too long.
My own standards for bottleworld make it no surprise that I appreciated two blogs where intelligent writers take a crack at their own primary-data-driven analyses, Ergosphere by “EngineerPoet” and The Earth Blog by Keith Farnish. EngineerPoet’s recent posts about the “ethanol sham” — his blog largely concerns energy — have been full of data, spit, and vinegar. Skoal!
Still this whole reviewing experience has exposed my standards as a little bit limited. Some of the supersmart writers I should like, so alert at finding ironies and putting technical issues in perspective, seem divorced from the biosphere. The focus is on humanity’s arrogance and potential for survival. I hope there’s more to environmentalism than that. Where’s the love for crazy friggin life?
That’s why more and more I’ve been turning to Edo’s Pink Tentacle, a site with beautifully simple design, large pictures, and clear, modest writing. It’s not an E-H title so I shouldn’t be reviewing it this week. I’m not even sure you could properly call it an environmental blog.
But just look at the site. Besides coverage of eco-tech, there you’ll find the magic in nature (jellyfish invasion!), in technology (walking partner robot!), and even in that wretched species humanity (flowering in poverty). All those things are together on the site without contradiction. I wish our world was like that. Thank you Edo.
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