Friday, July 29, 2011

Frakking & Fracking: Best Homophones Ever!

Growing up in a house with four brothers and then teaching at an all-boys high school, the crass culture of cussing has been with me all my life, but now that I am a teacher I have to watch my language. Enter Battlestar Galactica to save the day. By substituting frakking, frakked, or frak in place of that other very familiar four-letter word beginning with the letter f, I have been able to avoid blurting out a word that might jeopardize my job security or taint my character.

So, I will always have a special place in my heart for Battlestar Galactica because it is just so frakking good! You can’t tell me you don’t feel the same way. If you have ever seen the show, then you now how wildly addictive and entertaining it is, and if you haven’t, well, there is still a little bit of summer left and the entire series is available on Netflix Watch Instantly! Just be sure to watch the version from the 2000s, not the original from the 1970s.

My father has worked for Exxon and then Exxon Mobil for over 30 years. He steadily moved up the ranks, and my family benefited monetarily from his advancement and promotions. In fact, I would not have been able to attend Sewanee were it not for the $24,000 in scholarships that Exxon’s Teagle Foundation awarded me at the end of my senior year. My other brothers also benefited from the Teagle award. Even to this day, Exxon Mobil continues to support me by providing grant money to St. Thomas when my family volunteered to work the St. Thomas Wrestling Invitational in the past, and more recently, the annual St. Thomas Junior High Speech Tournament. So, needless to say, I am very grateful to the oil industry for its generous support of my education and work.

Having a father in the oil business, I am always interested to hear about developments in the field. Fracking is one of the buzz words these days and refers to an innovative way of extracting gas or oil through hydro-fracturing. Environmentalists worry that this new method might contaminate the drinking water or require too much water to get the oil out of the ground. I am not really concerned with such green anxieties; rather, I marvel at the ingenuity of the oil companies to think of new ways of recovering natural resources in our own country that might decrease our dependence on foreign oil in the long term. Plus, fracking is such a cool word. One company even came up with a kid’s coloring book featuring Talisman Terry the lovable Fracosaurus to explain the new technique. Unfortunately, political correctness and the liberal media squashed that pretty quickly.

So, there you have it. The coolest homophones in the English language: frakking and fracking!


  1. I'm sure you've come across this film:

    I think it's great that you've benefited from scholarships from the oil industry--I fully support corporations giving back to society by aiding education, art, etc--and I by no means paint the oil industry with a broad "liberal brush". However, I've heard from friends in West Virginia about how absolutely devastating this technique is on safe drinking water, communities, etc. The concerns have nothing to do with unfounded "green anxieties"; they are valid enough that the companies who perform this sought an exemption from the 1974 Safe Drinking Water Act which mandates that companies disclose what chemicals they are pumping into the ground in order to perform these procedures. It is impressive and efficient only in it's ability to remove the gas; in a bigger sense I wonder what is efficient about contaminating millions of gallons of water and compromising the safety of US citizens to extract the gas.
    I think everyone agrees that it's important to reduce dependency on foreign oil, but it doesn't follow that any method of reducing that dependency is a good thing.

  2. Jordan,

    Thank you for the comment. If the oil companies are contaminating "millions of gallons of drinking water," then I agree that such an occurrence would certainly go beyond "green anxieties." However, I would have to see some concrete instances of this actually happening before I would grant its legitimacy. Does the film you mentioned provide examples of such happenings? Thanks again for the comment!

  3. It's pretty well documented. The film explains it pretty well, but here's a pretty even handed explanation of some issues in the NY Times:
    It explains some confusion over the usage of the term, which I am guilty of in the above comment; I am specifically referring to it's more recent use in the "shale boom", you may have simply been referring to it's use in all drilling.

    I'm no expert, but the danger to drinking water seems to hinge on two things:
    -The water that is in the wells (far below ground water)is toxic because of the chemical additives that are blasted into the rock layers. The industry claims that there is no way that this toxic water can seep into the groundwater as it passes through that level of the rock layers, but that is far from proven. I'm not going to say that every documented instance of the chemicals associated with the process being found in ground water conclusively prove otherwise, but I think there's plenty of reason to be skeptical of the industry's assurance.
    -The process uses several million gallons of water to flush through each well. This water is contaminated and shipped away to be treated. Well blowouts or other accidents ( cause this to spill into above ground water sources such as nearby streams. Before shipping off, the Volatile Organic Compounds are evaporated off, which can contaminate the air as well (air that people breathe).

    Last year's devastating BP oil spill highlights the danger of hubris when it comes to pulling natural resources out of the earth. Even the most well intentioned, technologically-savvy companies can be, and have been, dreadfully wrong about the safety of these processes, and small mistakes or misfires have massive implications. I think cautious restraint at the very least is called for. Many folks on the Right see any environmental regulations as getting in the way of business (freedom, progress, the American way, etc). Corporations have never had the right to perform their services and make their profits at any cost. Regulations aren't designed to get in the way of their success, they are designed to get in the way of unhinged behavior that threatens the health and safety of US citizens.

  4. While I do think that excessive regulations can be a method for the government to shut down industries that the current powerbrokers do not appreciate (this applies to either party mind you), I am not of the opinion that regulations are bad in principle. I agree that they should be in place to protect the health and safety of US citizens. The government's primary responsibility after all is to protect the citizenry. Thank you, you have given me much food for thought.

    I originally intended the piece to be somewhat humorous. Hopefully, you at least found the BSG "frakking" business entertaining. I guess the fracking was more serious than I intended. Honestly, I just thought the fracosaurus was highly amusing. Thanks again!

  5. It is an awesome word, I completely agree on that point