Crackers in unfortunate places

By education, I am an engineer. In the professional of chemical engineering, specifically petrochemical or petroleum engineering, unit operations called “catalytic crackers” exist. These “crack” larger molecules into smaller ones. As an example, octane (nC8) can be crackt into propane (nC4) if desired.

All occupations have their own language, whether cryptolect or just technolect. In mine, these are termed “crackers” (definition 5), with sometimes unfortunate effects.

Appalachia is well-positioned for chemical growth / Appalachia has ample shale gas reserves and could support a thriving chemical industry, 100,00 new jobs and over $35 billion in capital investment, writes Hoppy Kercheval, citing the American Chemistry Council and the views of Steve Winberg, assistant secretary for fossil energy at the Energy Department. Winberg says Appalachia could support up to five crackers and being “geographic diversity” to the industry. Source: MetroNews (West Virginia) (4/12). [Emphasis mine]
For persons out of the American Engliphere, a “cracker” (definition 11) is an insulting term for someone who is white, lives in “the South” mostly, and is poor, with a strong implication that their housing is a filthy trailer with a trash-strewn yard. One of my grand fathers surprized me one day by actually saying “white trash”, another term.

Since Appalachia was, and is, absolutely unsuitable for plantations, there were few enslaved black people held by landowners there, so “crackers” are a common demonized group.

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A hopefully entertaining blogger, frequently of technical things, but some artistic commentary too.

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