Earth Day at the AAPG


While I never bought into the view that the military operates at the direction of the oil industry, I began to have second thoughts this morning. I was looking for a particular software vendor with whom I had an appointment in one of the exhibit halls of the convention center. Booth after booth showed all sorts of high tech military surveillance systems. ESRI had a booth, so I figured I must be in the right place. Wrong. Turns out it was a conference for the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association. The registration desk staff in military uniforms had given me an exhibit hall pass, no questions asked, after I handed them my AAPG invitation. I’m not sure what sort of registration system they were using. It was electronic though.

After realizing I was in the wrong hall, I headed next door, where the American Association of Petroleum Geologists were holding their meeting. I missed hearing Ray Hunt deliver the keynote speech the previous evening. You may have heard of him. He’s an oil man from Dallas who’s on the board of directors at Halliburton. Also coincidentally, he was appointed by Bush in 2001 to the President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board. I’m not sure if he was also speaking at the military conference.

What is striking about the AAPG exhibit hall, is that among the booths of high tech hardware and software vendors are many booths selling beautiful stone jewelry. The ammonite fossil jewelry seemed to present extinction as an art form. Ammonites look a lot like the Chambered Nautilus, in Oliver Wendel Holmes’ poem. While the poem celebrates unlimited growth, the ammonite fossils suggest limits.

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