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Monthly Archives: April 2012

By Austin Stahl | as506610@ohiou.edu | @AustinStahl24

Today’s topic is food, specifically meat. Producing meat takes a significant amount of resources, and there is some debate over how we should raise meat. There is also agreement among environmentalists that we should probably consume less meat. Regardless of how much we consume, there is definitely a need and a movement to reduce the impact of meat and agriculture as a whole.

1.     “To Kick Climate Change, Replace Corn With Pastured Beef”

http://motherjones.com/tom-philpott/2012/04/our-corn-driven-agriculture-vulnerable-climate-change

            The Midwest has long been known as the corn belt. But with global warming, researchers are saying that the prime corn-growing area will move northward into Canada. So what will we do with all that farmland? Make giant beef pastures that will help mitigate climate change, of course. Read on about King Corn and the fascinating proposal from researchers at the University of Tennessee.

2.     “The Myth of Sustainable Meat”

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/13/opinion/the-myth-of-sustainable-meat.html?_r=1

            Animal products have a serious impact on the environment because of the amount of resources they use. Because of this, James McWilliams argues that we should ditch meat entirely and that we really can’t raise “sustainable” meat.

3.     “Joel Salatin responds to New York Times’ ‘Myth of Sustainable Meat’”

http://grist.org/sustainable-farming/farmer-responds-to-the-new-york-times-re-sustainable-meat/

            In response to McWilliams’ accusations, Joel Salatin, a leader in sustainable agriculture and the owner of Polyface Farms, gives an in-depth look into how meat can be produced in a more sustainable way. Marrying modern technology with the smaller-scale farms of the past could be the way to go.

By Ian Ording | io312410@ohiou.edu | @IanOrding


Ask yourself: Does the idea of riding a dirt bike through the beaches of Normandy sound exciting? How about through an exploding factory? The set of the movie Inception?

If any or all of those scenarios capture your attention, the new Xbox Live Arcade release Trial Evolution should absolutely be on your radar. This downloadable title from RedLynx puts players in the seat of a bike with the simple goal of making it to the finish of each track. However, that simplicity can overshadow the difficulty of the levels in the latter half of the game. It is a game that has an easy door in and is as rewarding as a game can get for those who stick with it.

Trials has a control set that is as easy to grasp as it is difficult to master; the right trigger button accelerates and pushing left and right makes the rider lean back and forth. The game is set up on a two-dimensional plane, so the only directions you can go are forward and backward. These few actions must be used in increasingly difficult manners in order to come out on top of the tracks at the end of the game. That said, the game offers an almost incomparable level of relief when you finish a particularly grueling course.

Where Trials Evolution shines is in the replayability department. The courses vary greatly in both style and architecture, and each has requirements for bronze, silver and gold medals. Once you reach the levels labeled “Hard,” you will be hard-pressed to make it in the zero crashes required for the gold medals. And then, once you have unlocked the 135 medals required to win the game, the ability to win platinum medals is unlocked and you gain access to a set of “Extreme” levels that will have you pulling hair.

But don’t let the thought of constant crashing discourage you. The game employs a very forgiving checkpoint system that has little to no loading time. After almost every other jump is a checkpoint where your biker will return should you record a fault. This mechanic encourages you to keep trying to complete the levels, and after the repetition, familiarity in course setup will lend to cleaner runs. Trials is a game that will wave the players’ improvement in front of their faces.

When you feel like you’ve had enough of besting yourself, Trials Evolution allows you to take your skills online. The multiplayer of Trials allows for up to four-person races on tracks set up for the contests. It is a good diversion from hitting your head against the wall during your platinum medal runs.

Trials also provides tools for track creation. These user-made courses can be uploaded and downloaded to and from Xbox Live, making RedLynx’s dirt bike tour de force a communal project.

If you need further distraction from the excellent core gameplay, there is a set of minigames based on the biking gameplay. They include riding a course without the ability to tilt, wearing wings and making extra-long jumps and landing a flying saucer on landing pads. While these are mildly enjoyable, they will not merit your attention for very long. They offer an easy way to get a few medals if you are running short, though.

The only unfortunate misstep is in the soundtrack. The game opens with a grating rap-rock travesty and similar tunes play throughout your playtime. You may want to upload some songs onto your console to play, or mute the game and have Netflix or music on a nearby laptop as I did. It is an easily remedied issue, though one that stands out in an otherwise superb showing.

Trials Evolution is an excellent game that will suck away hours upon hours from your day. It epitomizes the “one-more-try” mentality with its medal rewards and outrageous difficulty. If you’re looking for an excellent game to thoroughly distract you, you need not look further. Trials Evolution is one of the best arcade games of this year. And at only $15, it provides a ton of fun for your money.

RATING: 4/5

 

Resource extraction in Appalachia has taken several forms over the years. Here, I will focus on the lasting environmental impacts of coal mining and the emerging impacts of shale gas extraction.

Coal was mined for many years in Appalachian Ohio, leading economic development and great environmental impact. Coal was formed from buried plant and animal matter over a long period of time and both high temperatures and pressures underground. The atmosphere contained far less oxygen than ours does today. Coal and the rocks directly above and below it often contain both metals and sulfur, often in the form of pyrite or iron sulfide. When we mine coal, we expose the coal and the associated metals and sulfur to the higher level of oxygen in our atmosphere. In contact with both oxygen and water, the minerals release metals — particularly iron, aluminum and manganese, and sulfur — in the form of sulfuric acid. The resulting metal rich, acidic water is called acid mine drainage.

Acid mine drainage discharging from abandoned underground mines, abandoned surface mines or piles of mining waste (called gob piles or slag heaps) pollutes streams. The acid mine drainage acidifies streams and kills most aquatic life, including fish and bugs. Hundreds of miles of streams in Appalachian Ohio are polluted by acid mine drainage. Over the past decade, local watershed groups and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources have invested millions of dollars into treatment and have restored 46 miles of stream to good ecological standards. The slow progress and high cost of acid mine drainage treatment demonstrates the lasting legacy that a relatively short-term extractive industry can have.

The exploitation of natural gas trapped in deep shale formations is the newest round of resource exploitation hitting Appalachia. This exploitation is now possible due to advances in drilling technology; companies can now drill a horizontal lateral from a vertical bore very accurately using horizontal drilling technology. This so called ‘gas boom’ is fueled by large quantities of water, silica sand and chemicals. A horizontal shale well is first drilled over a mile deep and often up to a mile horizontally into the shale layer. The well is cased with steel that is concreted to the rock to try to protect groundwater supplies. The drilling process produces a large amount of drill cuttings that must be landfilled.

After the well is drilled and cased, the production casing (the layer of steel that is placed along the entire well bore) is perforated using charges deep underground. The fracturing fluid, a mix of water, silica sand and various chemicals, is then pumped under high pressure into the well bore to hydraulically fracture the shale to allow the gas to flow from the shale layer. The process is an industrial process that brings many risks with it. Each pad is about 5 acres of land and are placed about one half mile apart, about eight well bores are drilled on each well pad. Each well uses approximately 5 to 10 million gallons of hydraulic fracturing fluid made up mostly of water, usually made up of fresh surface water or of water from city supplies. Of this water, sand and chemical mix, about 25-40 percent of the water returns to the surface during production; the rest is removed from the surface fresh water cycle indefinitely. The produced fluid may be reused to drill more wells, applied to roads for dust and ice control or re-injected deep underground.

Ohio is the main recipient of this wastewater from Pennsylvania and West Virginia. Beyond the infrastructure damage caused by the industry, some of the key risks to water include large amounts of extraction to make up fracturing fluid, cracked or poorly cemented casings allowing for fluid migration, leaking holding ponds for produced fracturing fluid and truck crashes and spills. Given the time and money put into cleaning up streams in Southeast Ohio, shale gas exploitation poses huge risks to Appalachian water resources and threatens the future environmental quality of the region.

Natalie Kruse is an Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies in the Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs. Kruse holds a Ph.D. in Civil Engineering and Geosciences from Newcastle University, and a B.C. in Civil Engineering with a minor in Geological Sciences from Ohio University. A winner of the Marshall Scholarship, Kruse won the Best Paper award from Mine Water and the Environment in 2009. She also won the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and the Morris K. Udall Scholarship. 

By Austin Stahl | as506610@ohiou.edu | @AustinStahl24

1. “Unilever’s Paul Polman: challenging the corporate status quo”
http://www.guardian.co.uk/sustainable-business/paul-polman-unilever-sustainable-living-plan?intcmp=239

Many environmental leaders in various fields, whether it is scientists, businessmen, government leaders, or activists, have challenged us to start thinking differently and challenge the status quo. Check out how Paul Polman, the visionary CEO of Unilever, is acting on his vision for change.

2. “Engineer Arrested in BP Oil Spill Case”
http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/25/business/energy-environment/engineer-charged-in-bp-spill-case.html?pagewanted=1&_r=1&ref=earth

It’s been just over two years since the BP Oil Spill, quite possibly the largest environmental disaster in U.S. history. The first charges have just been filed, and many more could be coming soon. BP, which has already paid over $22 billion dollars attempting to clean up the spill, could also be hit with heavy fines from the government.

3. “Senate Hearing Focuses on Threat of Sea Level Rise”
http://www.climatecentral.org/news/senate-climate-change-hearing-focuses-on-sea-level-rise/

The Senate had a hearing last week on how rising sea levels could affect us, specifically coastal energy facilities. Unfortunately, the hearing was marked by partisanship, as only one of the six senators was a Republican, Lisa Murkowski from Alaska. Still, one is better than none.


Granted there are only a few days left, national parks are the perfect excuse to go on a Western-bound road trip. Since there are none in Ohio, it gives you a reason to get out of our here and do some exploring. You don’t need to go to Italy to see breathtaking mountains when you can just head to Montana and see the Grand Tetons. Mountains not good enough for you? Go to Yellowstone and frolic around on a volcano for a few hours. If you want to head further, you absolutely have to go see Yosemite National Park. If I may, stay in Mariposa, Calif. It’s a tiny little town with one burger joint about 45 minutes outside one of the entrances at Yosemite. So yeah, the holiday week is almost over, but there’s really no excuse for you to skip out on some of the places that make America what it is today.


—Cori Sherman is the Associate Editor of The Post. Want to chat nature? Email Cori at cs182407@ohiou.edu.

By Austin Stahl | as506610@ohiou.edu | @AustinStahl24

In light of the university’s recent adoption of a resolution giving President Roderick McDavis the power to draft regulations for drilling companies in response to House Bill 133, I’ll start with a bit on fracking. Then, it’s on to the fascinating studies of two states — California and Ohio — that vary significantly in terms of their preparedness to deal with looming environmental issues.

1. “Will Obama’s New Rules Make Fracking Better for the Planet?”
http://motherjones.com/blue-marble/2012/04/fracking-rule-epa-obama-air-pollution

The Obama administration has taken a harder line on fracking and it appears the industry as a whole is becoming subject to stricter regulation. One surprise here: The industry isn’t fighting this one. Unfortunately, greenhouse gases aren’t specifically addressed by the new standards, only toxic pollutants.

2. “California Takes the Lead With New Green Initiatives”
http://e360.yale.edu/feature/california_takes_the_lead_with_new_green_initiatives/2504/

Read up on all the amazing things California is doing as a leader in environmental protection and sustainability, and prepare to have your jaw drop. Compared to the rest of the U.S., it almost seems like a different country. They are well ahead of the game and hopefully the rest of the country quickly follows suit.

3. “Report: Ohio unprepared for climate change”
http://www.dispatch.com/content/blogs/science-environment/2012/04/water-report.html

Our beloved home state of Ohio, on the other hand, is a bit slow-moving when it comes to addressing the environment, specifically climate-change induced water shortages. From the report: “Ohio could lose as much as $27 billion in GDP and 167,000 jobs from reduced water availability.”

Also, check out a look into Ohio University’s resource consumption over the past few years, as well as a look at how OU is leading Midwest campuses in the switch from coal to natural gas.
The ‘green’ screen
OU helps lead Midwest campuses Beyond Coal 

By WIll Ashton | wa054010@ohiou.edu
We Need to Talk About Kevin | Directed by Lynne Ramsay | Rated R

Expecting parents may want to think twice about seeing We Need to Talk About Kevin.

Not that it’s a bad movie — far from it. It might just kill any sense of joy they have that all children are innocent and loving.

Even as an infant, Eva’s (Tilda Swinton) son Kevin appears disturbed. Whenever he’s around his mother, he’ll scream nonstop. Whenever he’s around his father, Franklin, (John C. Reilly), however, all seems fine. As a toddler, Kevin doesn’t speak to or address his mother in any way. Franklin thinks nothing of it. At 6, he remains in diapers and grows more defiant of his mother’s authority yet remains calm and sweet to his father and others around him. They don’t see it, but Eva knows something is very wrong with her son.

The whole film is built on unease, tension, and dread, so it would be a sin to delve into the plot anymore. It’s one of those movies where it crawls under your skin in a matter of seconds and won’t let you go until you leave the theater — if you’re lucky.

As always, Swinton gives a powerhouse performance as Eva. Her ability to capture so much conflict and emotion on her face without saying anything is awe-striking and gives so much weight to the character. A character study, her performance not only heightens the film, it makes it whole; it brings the gravity of the situations to perspective without having to speak directly of them.

Because the story is told in a non-linear expression, this dynamic helps bring everything to focus and keeps the audience aware of what she is going through at all times. Its lack of clear structure will often grow frustrating to the audience, and also appears to leave gaps in the story. Since this was a book originally (of the same title by Lionel Shriver), it appears as though a couple things here and there were lost in the shuffle, leading to plot holes and unanswered questions.

Some of these, however, could arguably be considered up to the audience’s interpretation.  Although it seems to have an agenda of sorts, the film also appears to remain open to each character. This allows us to have a great understanding of the bigger picture and know the scope of the situations that are foreshadowed throughout.

Horror films are usually considered movies like Paranormal Activity and Halloween. But in a psychological sense, this is very much a horror flick. Rarely are there moments where the audience is able to remain calm and collected. Through editing, sound effects, some camera tricks and a score by the impeccable Jonny Greenwood, the audience is brought into a sense of dread from the beginning; it’s as though we are watching a train crash slowly coming, yet cannot do anything to stop it. It’s not going to be for everyone, but it’s unnerving nature will likely even live to those who cannot enjoy it.

Ezra Miller plays a teenage Kevin. Only indie audiences may be familiar with his work in such films as Afterschool and City Island (both of which I very much recommend watching). But in here, he proves himself a young actor to watch for. Even through a blank look in his eyes, he is able to capture a sense of terror.  He is a true horror villain.  Also, having seen work on set of his new film The Perks of Being a Wallflower, I can tell you that he is going to continue to show promise in future films.

It’ll leave a lot of people with mixed emotions, and that’s partially the point. But We Need to Talk About Kevin is a jarring piece of cinema that actually lives up to the phrase “grabbing you and not letting go.” Disturbing, haunting and ultimately daring, it’s the type of film that you can only really watch once, but that one view is very much worthy viewing.

RATING: 4/5

By Will Ashton | wa054010@ohiou.edu
Cabin in the Woods | Directed by Drew Goddard | Rated R

These days, slasher films can’t be what they are anymore.

Sure, they can still be made or rely on the same timing, plot beats, story lines and whatnot. But, quite frankly, after 300 times, it just doesn’t work anymore.

Thankfully, The Cabin in the Woods is not your typical slasher film.

The film, directed and co-written by Drew Goddard, is the type that the less you know, the better. Even the trailers — while they do not give away too much — still give away more than people should know. All that should be said is this: Whatever you think the film may be from the promos, you’re probably wrong. Dead wrong (no pun intended).

The movie is produced, co-written, and directed in the second unit by geek god Joss Whedon. As always, the dialogue and characters are witty and self-aware to the point that it may hurt the film itself. Throughout the first act and some of the second act, characters will say lines that, while usually clever, make them come off as characters nonetheless.

But, in typical Whedon fashion, The Cabin in the Woods keeps in his tradition of genre-bending to the point where life is brought to a genre that makes it both imaginative and fun again. This time, in the one way that it has been doing before and may only be able to — meta-comedy/horror. Much like Scream and last year’s Tucker and Dale vs. Evil, the movie brings a sense of self-awareness and freshness and comes across as clever and lively.

And with that, the film keeps in line with another kind of horror-comedy — the Sam Raimi type. As it particularly brings to mind other cabin films, like Raimi’s Evil Dead and Evil Dead II, the movie brings a nice blend of horror and comedy that, even if one doesn’t work, the other makes the film well worth watching.

Between horror and comedy, Cabin seems to rely mainly on the latter. While not without its pure horror moments, it does seem to lean itself towards comedy, and for that the film does come across as rather uneven.

Moreover, its self-awareness, as refreshing as it can definitely be, comes across as a little strong and smug. Not smug in the sense that it thinks better of itself than its audience, but rather in a way that says, “yeah, we know we’re being clever.” Which, in turn, hurts film more than help at times.

Still though, this movie keeps the fun going, and keeps it going strong. If you’re a horror, gore or dark comedy fan, then the last 25-30 minutes of this film will make you smile from ear to ear well after you leave the theater.

The film, which was shot in 2009 and has been on the shelf since then due to the recent issues that have plagued MGM Studios, still remains fresh and entertaining. Even during its troublesome years getting to theaters, the film has been gaining buzz, and since premiering at SXSW Film Festival, the word of mouth on the film has been extremely positive. While the film may not be the masterpiece “genre-bender” that people have been making it out to be, it still remains a must-see for horror fans and one that will likely be talked about in cult followings for the next few decades.

RATING: 3.5/5

By Will Ashton | wa054010@ohiou.edu

Imagine the most awkward situations you have ever been in, particularly at work, home or in public.  Now, take that awkwardness and times it by 10. That’s the basic premise behind the HBO comedy show The Life and Times of Tim.

HBO’s The Life and Times of Tim explores the everyday comedic misadventures of Tim. Usually the result of poor judgment, miscommunication or lying, Tim ends up in terribly embarrassing and awkward situations. Just in the first episode, his long-time girlfriend, Amy, and her parents find Tim with a hooker in their apartment named Debbie. At work — where he’s a bottom-feeder, white-collar worker at Omicorp, a fictional corporation in NYC — Tim has had to pretend he is Hispanic, pretend to have crapped on the floor and bit a co-worker, and other situations to avoid being fired by his boss, known only as “The Boss.”  And these types of things have become a normal day for Tim.

Tim‘s comedy deals not so much with the strange situations that happen, but what happens because these situations occur. Made completely in low-quality animation, the show provides a mild, but intentional, charm of being simplistic, yet larger than life at the same time.

Known for its cult following than its high ratings, The Life and Times of Tim just ended its third season about a month ago. What makes the show so funny is that Tim is probably the most mild-mannered, timid human being there could be. Always well meaning, he tries to make every terrible and abnormally unlucky and awkward situation appear as though it’s no big deal.

Lately, the last few episodes seem to have lost this quality a bit by making Tim appear a lot more of a jerk in certain situations, which is probably because Steve Dildarian, the writer, director, and creator of the show and voice actor for Tim, has been stepping away from writing the last few episodes. Despite this, the show remains bizarrely clever and bitingly hilarious, and with HBO’s other shows gaining or retaining their popularity, The Life and Times of Tim should have more viewers added to its limited fan base.

Unfortunately, it was just announced Monday that HBO has cancelled the show. However, due to its strong fan base, it was able to come out of its cancellation last season and there is already support being made to make the show on the air again.

By Austin Stahl | as506610@ohiou.edu | @AustinStahl24

As you all (probably) know, yesterday was Earth Day, so that will be the focus of today’s stories.

 

1. “For Earth Day, a Bit of Perspective”
http://green.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/04/21/for-earth-day-a-bit-of-perspective/?src=me&ref=science

Check out the trailer for a fascinating new documentary called Earth: The Operator’s Guide, done by Dr. Richard Alley, a climate scientist from Penn State University. In it he brings a wide range of people on both sides of the political sphere that show their concern for climate change and support for energy conservation and renewable energy sourcing.

2. “Scientists to world leaders: You broke it, you own it”
http://grist.org/climate-energy/scientists-to-world-leaders-you-broke-it-you-own-it/

Scientists convening at a conference are calling ecosystem health “the defining challenge of our age.” What do they think can save us? Technological innovations AND a cultural shift. It is going to take a collective effort, and there’s no better time to start then on Earth Day.

3. “5 Pieces of Good News From Planet Earth”
http://motherjones.com/blue-marble/2012/04/good-news-stories-earth-day

Some good news to celebrate Earth Day!

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