Last night I went to the town meeting where I live, which — well, if you’ve never lived anywhere podunk enough to have a town meeting, you’re missing out. This one was just as I remember them from my childhood, though PowerPoint has replaced mimeographed pages: ambition, exhaustion, confusion, and the one crusty, bearded guy who has to argue every point.

After a presentation by the head of the municipally owned utility, a tall, thin audience member in a tan suit and lavender tie approached the microphone. “Can you tell me what your short- and long-term plans are for incorporating alternative energy into your portfolio, given rising oil prices and dwindling supplies?”

The utility guy paused.

“Do you mean, what energy-efficiency measures do we have in place that will help us buy less oil?” he asked hopefully.

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No, said lavender tie, and repeated his dirty-hippie question.

The answer boiled down to this: Well, we use an awful lotta nuclear! Oh, and we might someday incorporate some kinda green portfolio, but people don’t really want it, and it costs too much anyhow. So we’ll just hope oil prices don’t get too much higher.

I hate it when my reality collides with my optimistic, work-derived view of progress.

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