Fracking And Utility Bills

This week the Toledo Blade ran an interesting story about fracking — the word used to describe horizontal drilling and using pressurized water to break up shale formations and free natural gas and other fossil fuels — and its effect on the utility bills of Ohioans.

IMG_1751The gist of the story is that there are abundant supplies of natural gas due to fracking, and as a result Columbia Gas is charging its lowest amounts in years. The story estimates that, without fracking, the cost would be somewhere between 65 to 129 percent more. In a winter that’s been brutally cold, with higher natural gas usage as a result, the lower monthly bills are welcome indeed.

As the Blade story indicates, environmentalists are concerned about whether fracking will have an impact on water and its potential for causing earthquakes. My sense, however, is that most Ohioans are happy with how the development of the Utica Shale formation in eastern Ohio has proceeded. There’s no denying that the discovery of apparently vast natural gas and fossil fuel supplies deep underground has produced an enormous amount of economic activity in a formerly economically depressed part of the state, producing new jobs and causing lots of money from other places to be spent in the Buckeye State. If fracking also is lowering utility bills, and Ohioans make that connection, it will further increase the support for the entire fracking enterprise.

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The Mile-High Club App

I don’t have many apps on my iPhone, and I don’t keep up on what’s available, but I saw this story about development of an app that is intended to help people find willing, anonymous partners for sex among their fellow air travelers.

The app will be called Wingman. On planes that have wifi, the app would allow people to enter their airline and flight number, find out if there are other Wingman participants on their flight, and then enter their seat number and destination so they can set up a sordid tryst in the airplane bathroom, under the scratchy blue blanket, or in a no-tell motel when they arrive.

It’s another reason to bemoan the race-to-the-bottom morality of our era, and to wonder about how much of our technological creativity is focused on finding new ways to get lonely men to spend money on testosterone boosters, hair implants, singles clubs, and other things that supposedly will allow them to increase their chances of having sex. They say that a huge portion of internet capacity is devoted to porn. How much of the app world focuses on trying to hook people up?

Wingman also should remind us all of the need to avoid use of airplane bathrooms to the maximum extent permitted by kidney and intestinal function. Now we don’t have to worry only about the sketchy characters with questionable personal hygiene who are sprinting back to the bathroom with urgent looks on their faces, or the unsteady octogenarians who’ve been in the can for half the flight. Now we also have to be concerned that lonely, desperate people might be swapping bodily fluids back there, too. If you’re planning on using the bathroom on your next flight, you might as well board in a hazmat suit.