March 25, 2016

Popping up on the energy industry's political radar

POINT RICHMOND, Calif. - Since publishing The Fracking War in 2014, followed by Fracking Justice last year, I wondered how long it would take the energy industry to discover that there were a couple of novels out there that take a very dim view of their activities.

Then this morning's email (and Twitter feed) came with a notice that an outfit called Energy In Depth is now following me on Twitter.

They found me!!!

If Energy In Depth sounds familiar, it should. This national natural gas industry-funded website has been putting out propaganda for years, most of it not only purposefully misleading, but downright nasty in a personal way. It's associated with Marcellus Drilling News, another industry-based web publication. MDN goes off the deep end - rhetorically speaking - on a daily basis. (Here's a sentence from today's MND: "The EPA is a lawless organization, out of control and drunk on its own power."

At first, I was puzzled by by EID's sudden interest in following me on Twitter. Then I remembered I had a lengthy email back-and-forth with the editor of the Marcellus Drilling News (Jim Willis) over a piece he published.

In that piece he said this:

"Everything in fracking fluid is stuff you find under your kitchen sink 
or in your bathroom medicine cabinet."


I emailed him back, pointing out that I didn't have benzene or toulene under my sink (or in any medicine chests) and that led to an exchange that ended with these two emails:

Marcellus Drilling News:
"Look, I know you're a radical anti-driller. 
Why do you subscribe when you disagree with what I write? 
Feel free to unsubscribe at any time. 
 I'm not interested in promoting your fictional book. - JIM"

Michael Fitzgerald:
"I disagree with the label radical anti-driller, Jim. I just want drilling done safely. 
And statements like you made about frack fluid ingredients all being found 
underneath a kitchen sink - or in a medicine chest? 
Come on. If that was really true, there would not be so much secrecy. 
 And the Halliburton loophole, would not be necessary. 
Keep pumping those stories out there pardner."

Why did I encourage him to keep pumping out his sometimes off-the-wall stories? Well, it's great fodder for future novels... Great stuff!

And for the record, I don't subscribe. I get a free daily feed of his "stories."

March 9, 2016

'Ninteen Minutes', a novel by Jodi Picoult that's full of surprises

POINT RICHMOND, Calif. - Somehow Jodi Picoult's 2007 novel, Nineteen Minutes slipped past my reading radar.

I honestly don't know how that happened. Ms. Picoult's books are usually in my hands shortly after they are released.

But this book fairly jumped off the shelf into my hands at the Point Richmond Public Library a few rainy days ago.

Yes, it's been raining here in the San Francisco Bay Area. Really!

In Nineteen Minutes, there's not much weather to speak of. But there is a hail of bullets at a high school (nearly 200 rounds), dead and injured students, enough bullying to give almost anyone nightmares, and a thriller/mystery plot told in flashbacks and flash forwards.

When you read Nineteen Minutes, "flashbacks and flash forwards" will make a lot more sense.

Jodi Picoult
Like all of Jodi Picoult's novels the research that went into it shows on nearly every page. She captures the essence of teenage life in American high schools, the angst of teens and parents alike, the flaws in the judicial system and the way-too cavalier manner in which we deal with bullies.

If you were seriously bullied as a child, this book may be disturbing. On the other hand, it will also be compelling.

Nineteen Minutes is absolutely recommended reading. And if your library doesn't have it, you can get it through Amazon quite quickly.