Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Oily After Dark

Excellent book, recommended for all audiences: Peter Maass, Crude World: The Violent Twilight of Oil (Alfred A. Knopf, 2009).

Reads like a series of adventures set around the world, the author mixing it up with folks, mostly men, high and low, all connected in some way to petroleum. A very male-dominated system, come to think of it. Which reminds me of Marlon Brando's quips as an oil tycoon in The Formula (1980) -- more on that, too, at some point, but one of them goes likes this: "Ah, Arthur, you're missing the point: We are the Arabs."  In any case, petroleum dependency is like Slavery (the human bondage kind mostly, belatedly, abolished in the 19th century): it gets worse before it ends.

In Crude World, Former Exxon-Mobil CEO Lee R. Raymond comes off as a decidedly creepy and very rich man. Maass calculates Raymond's income at $6,000 per hour, which may not sound like much at first blush, but think about it!  "Raymond fascinated me," Maass admits. "Despite his stature and power, he was nearly unknown outside the environmental lobby, which despised him; the financial industry, which swooned over him; and the oil industry, which feared him" (p. 117).  Raymond presided as Exxon's president during the Exxon-Valdez spill in 1989 and is now living "in retirement."*

Dig it: chapters titled Scarcity, Plunder, Rot, Contamination, Fear, Greed, Desire, Alienation, Empire and Mirage. That about sums up the role of petroleum and petrochemicals from Iraq to the Gulf of Mexico, from Iran to Alaska, from Russia to
Nigeria. . .  

*(According to Forbes.com, Raymond has served as a Director for J.P. Morgan Chase and Company since leaving ExxonMobil, drawing a $90,000 per year salary and $170,000 in stocks per year, except for 2006, when his stock awards amounted to $402,078.00.  What's a filthy rich man to do but pile up more wealth? Yes, he was there before during and after the crash, and still counting.)  

Today's Rune: The Mystery Rune. 


the walking man said...

so you're saying he's a slick bastard?

Pythia3 said...

Resurrected, I am :)
And, how are you, Erik?
I have been manically busy with school and a new career path . . . film, video and multi-media arts.
But, I do miss my cave - I need my cave - I have returned to my cave!

Charles Gramlich said...

The twilight eh? hum, I hear a lot of that going around. I wonder how true it is.

Anonymous said...

them thats got keeps it. greed is the lord of the few.

jodi said...

Erik, I find greed to be one of the grossest of the seven deadly sins.

Lana Gramlich said...

$6,000 may not sound like much? It takes me half a year to get that much!