Let's get this baby off the ground

Russian Flying Fortresses

Obama stamps his foot: "Will not tolerate"

“I will not tolerate any more finger-pointing or irresponsibility,” he said [speaking of the Gulf oil mess]. “This is a responsibility that all of us share.”

link: Obama Attacks Finger-Pointing by Firms Involved in Oil Spill - NYTimes.com

To hell with it. It's Saturday, and I'm taking a nap.

It is to wonder

Americans — the same Americans who buy everything TV tells them to buy and vote for the same shysters year after year, swallowing one lie after another whole — love to be told how tough and fearsome and independent they are.

link: I, Sarah Palin, Goes Redneck - Matt Taibbi - Taibblog - True/Slant

Why is there no duct tape on this list?

HAMMOND, La. – At first, BP tried to stop the oil rushing into the Gulf of Mexico by flipping a blowout preventer switch. A week ago, they attempted to capture the leak with a 100-ton box. Now they've hit a snag as they try to guide a mile-long tube into the gusher to siphon the oil.

link: Salazar: Latest effort to stop oil leak hits snag - Yahoo! News

I mean, really. What's wrong with these guys?

This thing sounds like when my kitchen faucet sprang a leak - actually, a row of three or four leaks - back a while ago. Eventually I had to have it replaced (the plumber explained those kitchen faucet things are not, like, a pipe inside but actually two half pipes stuck together and then chromed over and where the leaks were was in the seam between the two halves) but, I say, but the duct tape worked for a while. Which is a whole while longer than any of these hotshot plans BP comes up with.

Plus, you can get it in different colors, which gives the whole project a festive look in a sort of sacrilegious way.

Conspiracy at the Times?

Our ever-alert Midwest Bureau wants to know...

'Youll be empowered with the clear and concise information you need to make the choices that are best for you. Well help stop predatory practices, and curb unscrupulous lenders, helping secure your familys financial future,'' Obama said.

''With reform, well make our financial system more transparent by bringing the kinds of complex, back-room deals that helped trigger this crisis into the light of day. Well prevent banks from taking on so much risk that they could collapse and threaten our whole economy.''

link: Obama Wants Light on Wall Street's Shadowy Deals - NYTimes.com

Or maybe just a sticky keyboard?

What happened to the apostrophes there, Times?

Youve heard of apostrophes, havent you?

Geezer geeks online

May 4, 2010 - The national poll of 100 Americans turning 100 years of age or older this year reveals these centenarians are staying connected to family, friends, current events and pop culture and are increasingly using the latest technologies, including text messages, IMs and iPods, compared with two years ago.

link: Survey Says Centenarians Using New Technology; Saying Recession Worse Than Depression


Because you never know what kind of wackdoodle might be sitting in the next pew

Guns should be allowed in houses of worship as a way to protect congregants from attacks, if the pastor or head of the religious body approves, lawmakers said Wednesday.

The House voted 74-18 for House Bill 68 by Rep. Henry Burns, R-Haughton, sending it to the Senate for debate.

link: Bill allowing guns in church is approved by House | NOLA.com

Swept under the gulf

For more than three weeks now, crude oil has been erupting out of a pipe a mile underneath the surface of the Gulf of Mexico. A new analysis of seafloor video indicates that nearly 70,000 barrels could be gushing out every day, NPR reports. That figure is at least 10 times the U.S. Coast Guard's original estimate of the flow, and "the equivalent of one Exxon Valdez tanker every four days."

And nobody really knows where it is, or where it's headed.

...there's never been an oil spill this big and this deep before. Nor have authorities ever used chemical dispersants so widely.

link: Where's The Oil? Your Government Doesn't Really Know

Exactly. The seductive lure of dispersants is that they keep the oil out of sight - or nearly so - and, hopefully, off the beaches. And the birds. But nobody knows - certainly including that bastion of boundless optimism (oh go ahead and breathe, it won't kill you) the EPA - nobody knows, in an application this big (closing in on 500,000 gallons now) what harm the dispersants themselves (they are toxic chemicals) will do - or, for that matter, what the oil itself will do where it goes when it goes somewhere else.

"It's a trade-off, and no one will tell you using dispersants won't have an effect. You're trading one species for another," says Carys Mitchelmore, an environmental chemist at the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science in Solomons and a co-author on a 2005 US National Academies report on dispersants.

link: Nature News


Don't worry about that pesky oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, BP CEO Tony Hayward says: It's "relatively tiny" compared to the "very big ocean."

link: Huffington Post

Probably the one guy in the world who knows the absolute least about marriage...

The Pope condemned same sex marriage as a "dangerous and insidious" challenge to society in an address to half a million Catholic faithful.

link: Pope says gay marriage is 'insidious and dangerous' - Telegraph

...is, nevertheless, not to keep his ignorance to himself.

Senate nowhere, says Times

You don’t have to look far for proof that this country must cut its dependence on fossil fuels and develop cleaner sources of energy.

It can be found in the oil-slicked Gulf of Mexico. It can be found in China’s aggressive efforts to win the global competition for green technologies and green jobs. And, most urgently, it can be found in the inexorable math of accumulating greenhouse gas emissions.

And where is the Senate? After a year of talking, utterly nowhere....

link: Editorial - While the Senate Fiddles on Climate Change - NYTimes.com


I don't care how hard it is

Engineers will have to make sure the 6-inch-wide tube is inserted deep enough into the 21-inch-wide pipe so gas and seawater don't mix, which can form crystals that could clog the tube. They'll also have to thread the tube into the pipe without hitting debris around the riser.

link: BP's next try to stem oil gusher: Smaller tube - Yahoo! News

I worked with engineers more than once in a previous century on describing achievements they had made in various fields, and it turns out the first thing they want to tell you when they're telling you how they did something is how hard it was. Almost every engineering paper I've ever read (and sure, there are a lot I haven't, but almost every one I have) starts out: This was really, really hard because....



Photo: Phil Compton


"Rebounding U.S. economy"

Plug that phrase into a Google search with the quote marks (or just click here) and you get 180,000 results (now that this post is included, maybe 180,001) including one today, the one that got me started here - claiming a larger U.S. trade deficit in March is evidence of a "rebounding U.S. economy," not to mention digital media, more demand for oil, continued growth in China, and even an increasing unemployment stat are all evidence thereof (although, in fairness, at least one story referred to a "no longer rebounding U.S. economy," so the news is not all good). Just nearly all.

It's 45 degrees here today and I'm only interested in a rebounding U.S. temp.

The least helpful statement in recorded history

"The president is frustrated with everything, the president is frustrated with everybody, in the sense that we still have an oil leak," spokesman Robert Gibbs said.

link: Political patience wanes as Gulf oil spill grows - Yahoo! News

Who are these guys?

Ten percent of Americans believe environmentalists intentionally sabotaged the oil rig Deepwater Horizon off the Gulf Coast according to a poll released Tuesday, apparently as part of a ploy to reduce Americans' support for offshore drilling

link: Raw Story

Oh yeah. Rush Limbaugh fans. Of course.


The case for regulation

Lawmakers are expected to ask oil industry giant BP, which operated the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig 40 miles off the Louisiana coast, why its drilling plans discounted the risk that such a catastrophic pipeline rupture would ever happen, and why it assumed that if a leak did occur, the oil would not pose a major threat.

link: Companies pointing fingers at each other as Senate begins hearings on the Gulf oil spill - chicagotribune.com

The time to ask questions like that is not after the lid blows off.


Just in case you were getting bored

You learn the darndest things on the internets. For example, I just found out that the Gulf of Mexico is the primary disposal site for unexploded military munitions – over 30 million pounds of bombs, projectiles and chemical ordnance.

And because records are spotty and incomplete, we don’t know exactly where these dumps are.

(Are you following me?) Many of these bombs are unstable. Just about anything could detonate them – say, an oil rig that’s digging deeper than what owners noted on their permit application. So we’re leasing offshore drilling rights to oil companies IN A FRICKIN’ MINE FIELD.

link: Suburban Guerrilla » Blog Archive » Drilling In A Mine Field

(Emphasis in original.)

Where's Vincent Price when you need him?

AT this moment, poised between the release of “How to Train Your Dragon” — seven weeks and around $200 million of domestic box office in the past — and the arrival of the next and final “Shrek” movie two weekends from now, we find ourselves in the middle of what film historians of the future may remember as the great 3-D frenzy of 2010.
I thought we'd quashed this whole 3-D thing in the 50's.