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Articles by Sarah K. Burkhalter

Sarah K. Burkhalter is Grist's project manager.

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  • Ford says trips to the WC are slowing production of SUVs

    This is kind of a personal question, but throw away your privacy for the good of the company: Exactly how many minutes did you spend in the loo during work yesterday?

    CNN reports that the management at Ford Motor Co.'s Michigan Truck plant has released a memo declaring that too many of the factory's workers are spending more than the 48 minutes allotted per shift in the lavatory. Direct quote from the memo:

    In today's competitive environment, it is important that Michigan Truck plant immediately address this concern to avoid the risks associated with safety, quality, delivery, cost and morale.

    Delightful mental picture: Suit-clad Ford up-and-ups standing on alert at the door of the powder room, thumb poised on the stopwatch.

    What? You wonder what this has to do with the environment? Oh yes. According to the article, workers' prolific excretion is slowing production of the Ford Expedition and Lincoln Navigator SUVs. Well, I think I speak for all enviros when I say, "Do not stop urinating, friends! Fight for your right to crap freely and often!"

    Since greens get blamed for everything these days, I'll keep an eye on the news for reports of environmentalists concocting intricate plans to widely distribute laxatives to Ford workers.

    And yes, it is impressive that I wrote this entire post without using the word "bathroom." Thank you.

  • In which we ask a mess of smart people what should happen in New Orleans

    Unless you’ve been living under a rock — and these days, we can’t say we’d blame you — you’ve probably put at least a smidgen of thought toward the fate of New Orleans. It’s a rare thing to reconstruct an American city from scratch (though we can think of a few more cities we’d put […]

  • Running out of things to blame Katrina on? Here’s a new one

    I'll admit I didn't listen to this entire Oct. 5 NPR broadcast on "Environmental Politics after Katrina and Rita" -- probably worth a listen if you have 53 minutes. I tuned out after the first five minutes, following this ludicrous quote o' the week from Fred Smith, President of the Competitive Enterprise Institute:

    It would also of course be useful if we allow people to, encourage people to, develop their own mechanisms of defense. One of the great tragedies and something that showed quite clearly in Katrina is that poverty is a form of vulnerability, poverty is a form of pollution. The inability of people in New Orleans to get out of town, the reliance on mass transit, illustrates just how dangerous a world is without mobility, without the automobile and the ability to use it freely. And the war on the automobile, the war on the energy policy, have had consequences, and one of those consequences is an America that is more vulnerable, especially if you're poor.

    But don't just read -- listen, so you can hear host Steve Scher's throat-clearing as Smith says "mechanisms of defense" (got a cold, there, Steve?) and the snarl in Smith's voice as he pronounces the detestable words "mass transit."