Saturday, June 30, 2007


Hecate, the queen of ghosts, is sometimes considered to be Agamemnon's daughter Iphigeneia who was sacrificed to get a favorable wind to invade Troy. This was the seed that eventually led to Agamemnon's murder by his wife Clytemnestra. She was later killed by Iphigeneia's brother Orestes. Out of these stories came the birth of tragedy as a dramatic form. This form, together with comedy have fascinated us ever since. Consideration of Real Energy leads us to to look on the modern devotees of Hecate, the ghost energy necromancers, in a comic light. Their Petroleum Council report on how much more ghost energy they insist we need has been haunting these pages along with the secretive offices of government like bad penny. So, it was with much mirth that the imminence of their report was the occasion for a fairly elaborate joke.

The Yes Men volunteer to give presentations on behalf of corporations that take themselves a little too seriously. The have, for example, announced that Dow Chemical will liquidate Union Carbide to pay for the clean up of the Bhopal disaster. To get the joke, you need to understand that corporations are not allowed to behave ethically or take responsibility for the harm they cause because this could harm the stockholders' financial interests. Corporations, however they may feel, must wait for a legal authority to assign responsibility and they are pretty much required to defend themselves from being assigned that responsibility through legal arguments and political influence or else they fail in their prime fiduciary responsibilities. So, in the case of an unintended accident like that in India or the big oil spill in Alaska, they must make every effort not to accept blame. So, when the Yes Men announced that Dow took full responsibility for the disaster in India, it gave us all a good laugh.

The joke the Yes Men perpetrated in the middle of June was to present a new product on behalf of ExxonMobil called Vivoleum. Vivoleum is a biofuel rendered from human corpses, the supply of which is increased by global warming. They were invited to present before a meeting of oil people in Canada because the group was lusting after news of a report being prepared by the Petroleum Council that is going to say that the outlook for oil is very cheerful, at least this is what I took away from Alan Kelly's presentation in February. So, when a speaker's agency offered the Yes Men volunteers, they were happy to take them, no questions asked.

How far they were able to carry off the joke is pretty amazing. They gave a slide presentation on the new corpse rendered biofuel, and then got attendees to light candles purportedly made from the body of and ExxonMobil worker who volunteered to be sacrificed. Iphigeneia was tricked into her sacrifice by the promise of marriage to the hero Achilles, who, if he knew of this, really was a heel. The meeting began to cotton on when they watched this memorial video for the ExxonMobil worker. After that, the Yes Men were escorted from the building by police officers at the insistence of the meeting organizers.

But, the devotees of Hecate can't seem to laugh off a good joke. The access to the Yes Men's web site was shut down, and only allowed to be restored after ExxonMobil's name was removed. Since there was never going to be any real confusion over the use of their name, one needed to be licking ones chops for the Petroleum Council's report to be taken in to begin with, the use is protected fair use as parody. For Hecate's minions to force the removal of the web site under color of law is very likely to be a crime. But, what more can be expected of this family, so like that of Atreus. May we just hope that Hermione will somehow escape the tangles of fate and emerge from the dark times that drive them to such excess as a purveyor of lubricants rather than fuel.

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