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Oil slick

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Every night between 6:30 and 7 when I'm watching the network news, the energy giant BP runs a commercial about the American South's Gulf Coast — which, you will recall, was mucked up with 5 million barrels of crude oil in 2010 after a drilling platform exploded.

BP was blamed for the massive contamination, and last month, BP agreed to pay $4.5 billion in fines and restitution. The TV commercial is a prolonged effort by BP to keep wiping the crude off its corporate face. It touts how tourists are flocking to the Gulf Coast, thanks to BP's cleanup.

The company shifts gears later in the commercial to try to burnish its image another way. In this part of the commercial, we learn that BP supports 250,000 American jobs.

Hmmm.

What does it mean to "support" a job? Why does the company say this instead of saying it employs 250,000 people in America? If I were a cynic, I'd suggest it's because the company doesn't employ a quarter-million people, but I'm not a cynic, so I won't suggest it.

And if I were a cynic, that little bit of wordplay might get me to wondering just how committed the company is to fully restoring the Gulf Coast instead of doing enough to just get by. But I'm not a cynic. I'm just somebody who tries to listen to words I'm not supposed to notice.

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Wish I'd Said It

Nota bene: “Fear has governed my life, if I think about it. ... I always feel like I’m not good enough for some reason. I wish that wasn’t the case, but left to my own devices, that voice starts speaking up.” – Trent Reznor

“I hate to say this, but not many people care what you do. They care about what you do as much as you care about what they do. Think about it. Just exactly that much. You are not the center of the universe.” — Laurie Anderson

"The path's not yours till you've gone it alone a time." – William Carlos Williams

“Filling this empty space constitutes my identity.” – Twyla Tharp

"My definition of peace is having no noise in my head." – Eric Clapton

"The wreckage of the sky serves to confirm us in delicious error." – John Ashbery

"We are all here by the grace of the big bang. We are all literally the stuff of the stars." – Dwight Owsley

"For my part, I know nothing with any certainty, but the sight of stars makes me dream." – Vincent van Gogh

"It is only with the heart that one can see right; what is essential is invisible to the eye." — Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

"Forget about being a perfectionist, because entropy always wins out in the end." – Darren Kaufman.

"Impermanence. Impermanence. Impermanence." – Garry Shandling

"Fame is a vapor; popularity an accident; the only earthly certainty is oblivion." – Mark Twain

"There is no realm wherein we have the truth." – Gordon Lish

"Actual life is full of false clues and sign-posts that lead nowhere." – E.M. Forster

“Some scientists claim that hydrogen, because it is so plentiful, is the basic building block of the universe. I dispute that. I say there is more stupidity than hydrogen, and that is the basic building block of the universe." – Frank Zappa

“I try to leave out the parts that readers tend to skip.” – Elmore Leonard

“The secret of being a bore is to tell everything.” – Voltaire

• Journal title and subtitle: Ian Hunter, “Man Overboard”

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