Comments by capnhairdo

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Posted on June 9 at 4:04 p.m.

Mr. Russell, please provide references for your "truth".

As jdiggs pointed out, the first purported fact here is false. Fracking has already occurred next to a cattle ranch and vineyard in Los Alamos.

If Mr. Russell can't get that right, what other facts of his can we trust?

Fracking has already happened here, it is happening offshore in our channel (, it is happening west of us in Ventura and Kern Counties, and it will happen here again if we allow it. In a 2009 financial disclosure, Venoco readily admitted that they planned to frack the offshore Sockeye field. Said Chief Executive Tim Marquez. "We believe one of the Monterey shale zones producing at Sockeye is highly analogous to areas we've targeted with our onshore Monterey shale leasing. These wells appear to be ideal candidates for fracturing.” Venoco seems eager to frack both offshore and onshore in the Monterey. (; We can't control what happens in federal waters, but we can control what happens in our county.

It's good to know that there have been no accidents near Mr. Russell's farming operations. Many others have not been so lucky. Last year, the oil & gas industry averaged 20 spills a day in this country. ( Where fracking has occurred near farms, people and animals have become sick and died, and crops have become contaminated. ( Meanwhile, thousands of cases of groundwater contamination have been reported near fracking locations across the country. ( Locally, we have operators like Greka, called the “worst inland oil polluter in California”. Between 1999 and 2008, the County Fire Department responded to over 400 leaks and spills at Greka, and in 2011, the company was fined $2 million for a series of spills which involved more than 1700 violations of County regulations. (

The “truth” is: Santa Barbara's land and water are too precious (and too scarce) to experiment with these high-intensity operations.

On The Fracking Truth

Posted on May 22 at 1:17 p.m.

As loonpt pointed out, the new California oil boom just got busted.

Yes, there's plenty of oil beneath our feet, but with current drilling techniques, oil companies can't get it. Or can only get to 4% of what they originally thought. With wells covering the land, they might at best recover 600 million barrels. Enough to run our country for 31 days.

The nationwide boom in oil & gas won't last long either. Both the International Energy Agency and our own Energy Information Administration have warned that America’s oil production will peak again before 2020 and decline thereafter.

High-intensity petroleum operations represent an act of desperation to extract a little more profit by an industry that must, necessarily, soon be obsolete. As long as we believe a) there's no viable, affordable replacement for oil, and b) we're almost out of it, we will pay top dollar for it. Breathless discussions about "peak oil" only make the industry more money.

Meanwhile, we procrastinate investment in the clean energy grid that, sooner or later, will need to replace this oil-based one. Why wait? And why pepper our beautiful county with hundred or thousands more wells just to buy ourselves 31 more days of an oil-based economy?

On Energy Workers and Reps Blast Anti-Fracking Effort

Posted on May 21 at 6:38 a.m.

With booms always come busts. We already know that this new boom won’t last. Both the International Energy Agency and our own Energy Information Administration have warned that America’s oil production will peak again before 2020 and decline thereafter.

Shale oil is not a long-term solution for energy independence:

"Getting at tight oil requires a lot of wells, because production at each well falls off pretty quickly. There’s not much data from Monterey yet...but data from other tight oil plays shows that the depletion rate is high, on the order of 80 or 90 percent the first year. 'After seven or eight years, wells will have produced over 60 percent of their recoverable reserves. Therefore, you have to keep drilling like hell just to maintain production, and drill even more to increase it.'

"When petroleum geologist and researcher Arthur Berman looked at actual well data, it turned out oil and gas companies had systematically overstated shale well productivity. With wells falling off quickly, and most early fracking funded by debt, producers are under huge pressure to keep digging new wells."

-- Grist.

On Fracking Ban Coming to Santa Barbara?

Posted on May 20 at 10:23 p.m.

Due to our geology, fracking may not be as much of an immediate concern in Santa Barbara County as acidizing and steam injection. All three are covered by the initiative.

Fracking & acidizing use large amounts of toxic chemicals. Wells are typically acidized with hydrochloric acid or
hydrofluoric acid. The latter is one of the most hazardous industrial chemicals in use. (Seen Breaking Bad?) In the Monterey Shale, some companies are using a solution of up to 30% HF acid.

Over 600 different chemicals have been identified in fracking operations. Some are benign, but many of them highly toxic and carcinogenic. Yummy stuff like benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene & xylene. Up to 400,000 gallons may be used in a single well. 30-70% of it typically stays in the ground.

Wastewater that is recovered from wells must be disposed of somewhere. In many places, is often stored in open pits before being trucked away. Spills release this toxic cocktail into our surface water, groundwater and soil. In North Dakota &
Pennsylvania, thousands of spills and intentional releases have been reported in the past few years. Our wastewater
treatment plants are not designed to deal with this fluid, so it is usually pumped into “wastewater injection wells” and left there forever...where it can migrate through natural fractures in the rock into our groundwater, perhaps decades after the oil is gone.

"4 states confirm water pollution from drilling". USA Today. (

Other references:
Earthworks Action & the CDC.
High Country News.
The Nation.

On Fracking Ban Coming to Santa Barbara?

Posted on March 28 at 5:33 p.m.

There's little mystery any longer surrounding what's happening to the bees; for years now, neonicotinoid insecticides ( like Bayer's Clothianidin have been blamed as the primary culprit. Though the E.U. has banned them, the U.S. has refused to follow suit. So we're wiping out our bees willfully.

I fail to understand how creating artwork out of half a ton of beeswax is somehow supposed to help these poor beleaguered creatures. They pollinate our food for free, and we repay them by stealing the honey they toil to create. To then also steal their wax for artwork meant to honor them seems like a rather depraved tribute.

But I suppose the only reason we care about bees at all--as opposed to any other insect--is simply because they're useful to us. It's not as if we care about them for their own sake.

On <i>Swarm: A Collaboration with Bees</i> at Lotusland

Posted on September 30 at 8:46 p.m.

Proponents of Measure B-how many of you actually live in 'el peublo viejo'? Or do you just visit occasionally, driving in from your homes in the suburban sprawl that spreads for miles in every direction from it?

I live and work downtown, in a multi-story building. Thank goodness it was allowed to be built, or I might be stuck out in that wasteland of of single-story residences on upper State, or maybe even Noleta, forced to drive everywhere. When I moved here years ago from San Luis Obispo, it was partly because that adorable little town was too spread out. I prefer compact, walkable, bikeable downtown Santa Barbara. And I would much prefer that Santa Barbara had stayed contained in its original small valley below the mission, growing upwards instead of outwards, increasing in density rather than footprint. Then maybe we'd then still be farming the lush Goleta valley, and wildlife would still roam free on the Mesa. (And the occasional wildfire in the hills would be nary a threat to our compact, defensible little town.)

I don't know the answers to the legitimate concerns about the McMansion condos sprouting up on Chapala. Changes need to be made. But limiting building heights seems a stupidly simplistic solution to a complex issue. It seems roughly akin to limiting vehicle lengths to, say, 15' so that we can prevent the limos and stretch Hummers of the wealthy and tasteless from clogging our small town. Of course, it would also prohibit school and city buses, delivery trucks, and lots of other perfectly useful & efficient vehicles...but never mind that, we need to send a message to our City Council about those limos!

Better yet, if we're really serious about resurrecting our original small-town 'pueblo viejo' vibe, maybe we should just eliminate cars altogether and only allow horses and pedestrians. Then Measure B proponents would likley not have a way to get downtown to be bothered by our-gasp!-60' skyscrapers.

On Vote No on Measure B

Posted on February 9 at 12:23 p.m.

* The numbers of Iraqi casualties are of course highly controversial and much politicized. A much-criticized report from Johns Hopkins University appeared in October of 2004, finding that about 98,000 excess Iraqi deaths had occurred in the year and a half since the invasion. The same team produced a follow up report in October 2006, surveying almost 13,000 people and finding about 650,000 excess deaths through June of 2006. The Johns Hopkins studies used the best available epidemiological analysis to calculate these figures and was the same used by the U.S. government after wars in Kosovo and Afghanistan.
In September of 2007, a British polling firm, Opinion Research Business (ORB) conducted a survey using slightly different methods. ORB concluded, based on interviews with 1,500 randomly selected Iraqis, that there had been 1.2 million excess deaths, plus or minus 2.5%, since the invasion. 1.2 million Iraqis constitutes fully 5% of the population. 5% of the U.S. population would be 15 million people.

On None

Posted on February 9 at 12:22 p.m.

Somebody else asked Rana and Maki what timetable they would suggest for us to leave. I wanted to scream. How Any excuses that we are somehow protecting the stability or security of the country must now ring hollow. What more damage could be done than we have inflicted on them? Our culture is 12,000 years old, Rana said. Yours is 200. We will rebuild, as we always have. It is adding gross insult to gross injury to tell the people of Iraq that we must protect them from themselves. As long as the insurgency persists, we remain; yet the only reason the insurgency exists is to get rid of us.
This war casts a shameful light on our ideals of justice. Here, if you murder a man, you are arrested, tried, and thrown in jail, vilified. But if you kill a million people...nothing. 1.3 million. That's one dead Iraqi for every 230 of us. In that theater alone, we were collectively responsible for the violent death of 2 or 3 Iraqis. I tried to imagine how different things would be if we as a mob had killed them right there on the theater floor. Instead we tacitly allowed the deed to be done for us with cluster bombs and shrapnel in a remote desert.
There is a growing movement to prosecute George W. Bush for murder for concocting these wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. And much as he deserves it, it's far too little. Except perhaps a very small group of Americans who have given their all to stop this, the 300 million rest of us should be put on trial for our role, our complicity, in ever allowing this happen, and for continuing to allow it even after we knew these wars were waged on false pretenses. That I have vocally opposed them from the beginning (and occasionally marched against them) does not exonerate me. If I witness a murder that I could have stopped, it makes little difference that I disagreed with it. We are all guilty...we all have this blood on our hands. There will be no justice or reparation for the Iraqis. No, sadly, we Americans will be let off the hook for these deaths, for the utter destruction of a country and a people.
I hope it haunts us forever.

On None

Posted on February 9 at 12:22 p.m.

Where was the humanitarian aid, the rebuilding we promised the Iraqis? As one soldier said in the film, the military's not really set up for that. I saw no reconstruction. Only utter destruction.
After the film, the Arlington screen was given over to a live video chat between the audience and two Iraqi refugees, Rana Al-Aiouby and Maki Al-Nazzal, friends of Manning and collaborators on the film. But what do you ask a refugee of a war that is still being waged, in which your nation is the aggressor? I was terrified of having to face those two myself. I knew I could say nothing except "I am so sorry...a thousand times, I am sorry, for what we have done to you, for what we are still doing to you."
Other people were more brave, but sadly, in that entire theater, the only two eloquent voices belonged to the Iraqis on the screen. To many of the questions, their response was simple and disturbing: What sort of democracy do you have that you cannot get your leaders to stop this war? A question that should humble us whilst we congratulate ourselves for the mere task of finally electing a respectable president.
One person asked Rana and Maki what Iraq wanted. What do they want? Their country back. Their homes, their cities. Their families alive again.
According to, 1,307,319 Iraqis are now dead* as a result of our attempt to "liberate" their country. Millions more Iraqis are maimed, injured, traumatized, homeless, hopeless. Surely they were better off under their old dictator Saddam than this liberation we bring, in the form of death, destruction and displacement. Nearly half the population are now refugees inside or outside their country. We've incited a civil war that didn't exist before. Al Qaeda had no presence there prior to our invasion. Now the Iraqis tacitly allow them and other foreign fighters in their battle to get their country back.
Lest we still somehow fail to comprehend their ungratefulness, one man in the film reminded us of our own Revolutionary War, when we ungrateful colonists threw the British out. We celebrate it with Independence Day, erect statues of George Washington. Surely he and his rag-tag band of minute men were insurgents, terrorists even, as they harassed the occupying British Army, took potshots at them with rifles from the trees. The crucial difference is that we were British subjects, demanding our own country. The Iraqis just want the country that was already theirs back again...and to cease living and dying in a constant state of misery and horror.

On None

Posted on February 9 at 12:19 p.m.

Not sure who Lindsay Quock is, but here's the full text of this letter, which I wrote and submitted to the Indie a week ago.

On Tuesday, January 27th, the Santa Barbara International Film Festival featured a showing of The Road to Fallujah at the Arlington.
Pity anyone who missed it.
It was with a profound self-loathing and shame that I left the theater-a hatred of myself for not having devoted every minute of my life these past six years to stopping this horrible war. For having gone about my life as if things were normal. For spending most of each day forgetting that a holocaust is being waged in my name on innocent people at this very moment.
"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing." Or not enough.
What could I have done? Witness filmmaker Mark Manning. A former Santa Barbara oil rig worker, Manning took a night class in documentary film making, then headed off to the Middle East. There, he met an Iraqi women and helped her smuggle medical supplies into a hospital in Fallujah, shortly after U.S. forces converged on and captured it in 2004. Manning stayed on to film the destruction there and the stories of the Iraqis who had survived it, probably the only unembedded westerner in the city. What he brought back was devastating, horrifying, shameful. Neighborhoods flattened. Blood-stained walls. Charred bodies and dismembered limbs. Mass burials. Traumatized children, wailing mothers. People who, except for their mustaches and scarves, look like us:only much, much sadder.

On None

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