A Giant Mistake

Posted: Monday, July 14, 2008 at 12:00 am
By: Doug Lund
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I watched the movie “Giant” the other night.  Hadn’t seen it since I was a kid when I thought it was just about the greatest movie ever. It starred Rock Hudson as Bick Benedict, an early 20th century Texas cattle baron who believed that cows were a better more respectable way to earn a fortune than oil.

It also starred James Dean, as Jett Rink, who was the absolute epitome of “cool” even as his character changed over time from an innocent young ranch hand with big dreams to an evil, greedy, womanizing, alcoholic mega millionaire Texas oil tycoon.  
Time has not been kind to “Giant.” 
The movie I thought was so fantastic when I was ten..doesn’t have quite the same appeal a half century later. I now see lots of places where it’s three hour running time could have easily been cut in half..including some of James Dean’s scenes filled with his frustratingly long method-acting pauses. Oh well, it still holds up okay today and it was especially pleasant to watch the beautiful Elizabeth Taylor in her cowgirl outfit riding sidesaddle across the vast expanse of Riata Ranch. I also thought it was rather poignant when Bick Benedict as an older man sat on his front veranda staring sadly out onto what was once pristine open range land now polluted with ugly oil derricks as far as the eye could see and thousands of oil pumps bobbing up and down like one of those drinking bird toys on a glass of water. 
It kind of reminded me of what’s already happened in southwest Minnesota and what the green crowd would like to see happen all across the windy Midwest including and especially South Dakota; stick 300 foot high wind generators on every square piece of property where there might be a breeze.
I’ve harped on this before and managed to tick-off a lot of people who are convinced these contraptions are the answer to the perceived energy crisis and a badly needed financial boon to farmers and landowners who’ll gladly trade a nice countryside view for a big check from the utility company..who is also getting a big check from the government (my tax dollars) to subsidize the whole thing. 
But, I’m like John the Baptist crying in the wilderness on this one. It seems most everybody, including all three of our congressmen have gulped down the environment-in-crisis kool-aid and refuse to consider an alternative source of energy that’s been around for over 60 years.
We think nothing of sending our sons and daughters to serve in the Navy aboard a nuclear powered ocean vessel where their bunk beds might be located  just a few feet away from the atomic reactor. But mention building more nuclear power plants in this country as a safe energy alternative to those mega million dollar windmills on every hill and people will look at you like you have snakes coming out of your ears and they’d just as soon run you over in the parking lot with their 30 thousand dollar hybrid Honda.
I see now that South Dakota’s wind energy industry is currently a pawn in a political chess game in Washington essentially putting a hold on further “wind farm” construction until they sort it all out.
 I sort of hope they don’t get around to it. Flame away, folks, but don’t blame me when 20 years from now you look out toward the horzon and see nothing but giant whirlagigs.I’ll bet, just like Bick Benedict , you’ll wish for the old days and unobstructed sunsets.On a lighter note: Here’s a little image that made me laugh and serves as a reminder for all of us to be mighty careful when operating a lawn mower.

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