Sunday, May 23, 2010

30, El Camaron

For mother's day I took my 78-year old mom out to Brooklyn's Chinatown. We ate a tasty meal at a Vietnamese pho restaurant. Looking for a complement to our bowls of soup and noodles I asked my mother if she'd enjoy an order of shrimp. "Oh yes, we should have some while we can still get it."

It's now a month since the explosion at the Deepwater Horizon oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico. In the interim an incredible volume of crude oil has spilled out onto the fertile gulf waters, so much that it is visible from space. We've been treated to the spectacle of the BP oil company, the sinister Halliburton corporation, and the Swiss company that actually owned the destroyed rig all pointing fingers of blame elsewhere, except at themselves, while testifying before congessional inquiry. We've seen BP offer estimates of how much oil and gas are leaking into the waters of the gulf that are a tiny fraction of what non-oil company sources estimate. We've seen politicians and infotainers deny that the spill is much of a deal--"accidents happen" says idiot/racist Senatorial candidate (Ayn) Rand Paul. And we've seen the US government seemingly place all its trust in the dubious ability of BP to clean up its own mess. Unbelievably, it's not yet about clean-up of this spill, it's still about turning off the out of control spigot on the ocean floor which BP has lackadaisically failed to figure out how to do. I suppose not surprisingly President Obama is talking about a commission of inquiry; what he should be doing is seizing all the assets of these companies.

I would like to know what will happen when the inevitable hurricane hits this oil slick?

Meanwhile the oil is beginning to wash up on the shores of the gulf, and commercial fishing has been curtailed in large areas. The wildlife of the area: birds, sea turtles, dolphins, whales, fish, shrimp and oysters face imminent catastrophe. The livelihoods of the local fishing industry (ironically including thousands of immigrant Vietnamese shrimpers) are deeply challenged, and the population of the region, already complaining about an unpleasant smell in the air, face unknown health risks.

So yes, 30, El Camaron, the shrimp. An ugly, insect-like creepy-crawling, scavenging little crustacean that God hates, yet sweet, plump and delicious. Soon to be endangered on these shores. But it turns out 90% of shrimp consumed in the United States is imported. So everything's okay, right?

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