Saugatuck/Douglas Commercial Record

Blue Star

By Scott Sullivan
Flap & Pump Jacks
“Deep in the heart of Texas” assumes it has one. I’ve criticized the state that gave us everyone from Ted Cruz to Lee Harvey Oswald, but saying it’s heartless is unfair given the race underway for Texas Railroad Commission.
For those who’ve not followed it avidly, this vote matters because the commission oversees fossil fuel production and pipelines there. During the 1940s and ‘50s the TRC was a big player setting world oil prices. Now, with Russian oil embargoes possible, this election’s winner could freeze the state’s infrastructure and contribute to widespread blackouts.
So who’s running?
• Incumbent Wayne Christian, a Grammy-nominated gospel singer from the small east Texas town of Center, who just overruled staff and awarded an oil-field waste dump contract to a hometown group that three days later paid him back with a $100,000 campaign contribution;
• Sarah Stogner, who posted TikTok and Twitter videos showing her riding a pump jack while wearing only a hat, underwear and pasties. Stogner, who is not accepting campaign contributions, wrote on her posts, “They say I needed money … I have other assets.” Also
• Marvin “Sarge” Summer, owner of an oil-field networking website from Lubbock, who just crashed his Cadillac Escalade into the rear of a tanker truck and died.
Given how government doesn’t work, I like the idea of electing dead people. Then again, a Christian who welcomes graft and woman who’s “been trying for years to get the media’s attention for important issues and guess what finally worked?” score on my reality meter also.
Though I don’t live in Texas, my brother Stuart does. He knows better than to take my advice, but I’d counsel him before voting to explore how he understands his existence.
The good news — I’m always full of it — is a new paper by French astronomers describing supermassive black holes claims to have implications for where all life comes from.
First, it concludes, these black holes at the center of many galaxies might look more like pancakes than the donuts most of us think of, assuming we do think: pancakes smoking as the black holes at their centers burn through their outer edges.
“The co-evolution between the black hole and the host galaxy — what was first, the black hole or the galaxy? — has a strong impact on the evolution of the galaxy, including the formation of its stars,” Romain Petrov says of his colleagues’ findings. “A link in the chain of events that lead to the existence of people that can discuss these issues.”
There was only one place to unify these theories and TRC race: the Pullman Tavern, where non-elites slink to drink and solve problems of the universe over a cold one or two or three.
Petrov’s team was there and had ordered pancakes with heated centers that burn through their outer edges. “Look,” he told me, “the smoke is analagous to dust and gas that hides the central black hole, whirling, compressing and releasing tremendous energy making galactic nuclei active.”
“Maple or blueberry syrup?” I asked.
“What we need now,” he went on, ignoring me, “is data obtained from the MATISSE infrared instrument — images in much more narrow spectral bands — to determine what that is.’
“Got it with you?” I asked.
“It’s in Chile. Any more questions?”
“What’s on tap?”
In walked the TRC candidates. OK, Summer was being carried. “We had him stuffed,” Stogner said, “so he won’t eat or drink much.”
“Bring us a round of Lone Stars,” Christian told the bartender. “You take unmarked bills? Is it true,” he asked, turning to Stogner, “you lost your San Antonio News Express endorsement after your video?”
“I have boobs,” she replied. “Welcome to having boobs. When you have boobs you get held to different standards.”
“Want to mount my pump jack?” I asked.
WHAM! Her left hit me like a freight train.
“What does this have to do,” asked Petrov, chewing on his model galaxy, “with where all life comes from?”
“What doesn’t it?” asked Stogner.
“We’re concerned,” Christian added, “with how energy is distributed. Like you, Romain. What do you think, Sarge?”
He was silent.
“See, he agrees,” said Christian.
A few Lone Stars and my head started feeling better. “What makes you guys think,” I asked, “you know everything?”
“We don’t,” Petrov said. “We’re just trying to influence outcomes to our advantage.”
“What makes you think believes you?”
“All we need is votes,” Stogner said.
“And more research grants,” Petrov added. “What makes you think you can think?”
“Got me there,” I said.

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