Saturday, May 15, 2010

Audits before plaudits, please 

A YRHT source passes along this interesting local news story from Nashville:

Last year, then-Police Chief Ronal Serpas ridiculed a Metro councilman's suggestion that someone ought to audit his crime statistics.
Ridiculed a suggestion for an audit? That's rather unprofessional and suspicious.

It didn't happen then.

But now, after a NewsChannel 5 investigation, it may finally happen.

Late Friday, Mayor Karl Dean asked Nashville's internal auditor to take a hard look at how Nashville reports crime. The mayor says the public deserves to know the truth about crime.

Before he was picked for a new job in New Orleans, Ronal Serpas was adamant about his crime stats -- stats that showed six straight years of crime reductions in Nashville -- despite other crime numbers that showed other trends.
Other crime numbers that showed "other trends". Hmm.

Ironically, one of the first things that Serpas did when he was sworn in as the new police superintendent in New Orleans was to order an audit of how crime stats have been kept in that city.

This bears watching. One heartening thing about the Serpas pick was Mayor Mitch Landrieu's statement to the press when Serpas was sworn in

"He's the most well-educated, he's the most well-written, the most well-researched, he's got the most experience," Landrieu said, speaking to reporters after the ceremony. "Give him a chance. Wait to see how we do. If he doesn't do well, we'll go someplace else."
Serpas took a significant pay cut to come to New Orleans. But if he stays on the job three years, he qualifies for a lucrative pension that more than makes up the difference. You would think that during negotiations with Mayor Landrieu, Serpas wanted something close to an assurance that he'd be on the job for at least three years. But Landrieu's "we'll go someplace else" comment correctly puts the focus on future results, not on Serpas' past resume. Rightfully so. Landrieu's loyalty needs to be with New Orleans, not with his police chief selection.

So, fair or not, "a chance" in this situation is about eighteen months. If crime rates and police work don't improve over the next eighteen months, the public should hold Landrieu to his word, and say "We gave Serpas a chance, and now we should go someplace else". If that means Serpas loses out on a pension, too bad for him. And if audits and disclosures shine a new light on Serpas' results-driven record in Nashville, then he will have a very short honeymoon in New Orleans and will face compounded scrutiny and skepticism.

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Friday, May 14, 2010

Bring it ON! 

Via Suspect Device, we learn

A group representing big industry in Louisiana that contends actions by the Tulane Environmental Law Clinic drive jobs from the state has recommended to its members to stop all corporate donations to the university and cease recruiting its students.

With one of the biggest man-made environmental disasters looming off our coast, Big Industry is targeting students and faculty for successfully using proper and legal channels to decrease... pollution. The Chemical Brothers and Big Oil are going after the biggest private employer in New Orleans... in the name of jobs.

Wow. Not since they offered a vinegar sponge to The Crucified has there been a more hideous display of gall on a stick.

James Gill admirably crushed these bastages a couple days ago:

[R]ight now, with oil lapping our shores, nobody in Louisiana would be idiot enough to advance [the proposition that a clean environment is bad for the state].

Well, nobody outside the state Legislature. A Senate committee... is scheduled to consider a bill filed on behalf of oil and chemical companies that want the freedom to poison our air and water without further interference from the Tulane Environmental Law Clinic.
...
The bill deserves to be junked not just for the benefit of the clinic's students and their impoverished clients but for anyone else who doubts that economic development requires anti-pollution laws to be ignored.


There is no doubt that is what the oil and chemical lobby believes. [State Sen. Robert Adley, R-Benton] says he filed the bill because Tulane had provoked the ire of industry by filing lawsuits, including one to enforce clean air regulations in Baton Rouge.

Enforce clean air regs... heaven forfend! What will these eco-terrorists do next, advocate for clean water?

And as far as Sen. Robert Adley being the industry shill who filed the bill-- no big surprise there. When Adley's not protecting the interests of Big Polluters from Tulane's meddling student lawyers, he's unethically interfering with contracts for the benefit of himself and Enron and scuttling "glass pockets" ethics reform legislation. What a guy.

I dare "business-minded" organizations and anti-environment conservatives and libertarians to line up behind this incredibly stupid proposal. True colors will never be clearer.

[Tulane President Scott] Cowen called the [Louisiana Chemical Association's] strategy "unprecedented" and "embarrassing" for the association and its leadership.

I have nothing but mclovin for Scott Cowen on this issue. Stand firm, but wear a cup. These guys are hitting below the belt.

According to the letter, the chemical association also plans to complain about the clinic to Gov. Bobby Jindal.

Surely, our Rhodes Scholar science major Governor isn't stupid enough to support this vulgar display of corporate vindictiveness. Surely. If this gang thinks now's the time to make the case that environmentalists and lawyers are killing business in this state, all I can say is: BRING IT ON, F-MOOKS.

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Concentrated hilarity 

Huge credit to Adrastos, who posted this tremendously entertaining Daily Show clip of Lewis Black obliterating Glenn Beck over his nazi perma-goggles.




Classic.
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Related.

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Fear of Iced Tea is the Mindkiller 

Wapo:

The oil emerging from the reservoir nearly four miles below the surface is on the lighter end of the density scale, [BP spokesman Andrew] Gowers said.

"It's not thick, heavy crude that goes glop. It's light crude that when it reaches the surface of the water, it's more like iced tea," he said.

Light and sweet-- just like your Luzianer iced tea!

But our iced tea isn't toxic. (Well, maybe it is toxic if you doctor it up, but it's still far less toxic.)

Jeffrey says BP is "using the wrong kind of sweetener on the iced tea". Heh. Yeah, we're just languid southerners relaxing on the porch, spinning yarns, sipping sweetened tea, and luxuriating in our Hobson's choices. You BeePers mop up that choco milk ya spilt, and just let us know when yer done.

More food metaphors:

The oil manifests itself in a variety of forms, which are documented in government reports as silver sheen, transparent sheen, brown oil, tarballs and "orange pancakes or streamers."

What the bleep is this, a trippy Beatles song? [Lyrics slightly tweaked.]

Picture yourself in a boat on oil river,
With transparent sheens and marmalade pies.
Somebody calls you, you answer quite slowly,
A spill with kaleidoscope eyes.

Cellophane flowers of yellow and green,
Towering over your head.
Look for the girl with the sun in her eyes,
And she's gone.

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Thursday, May 13, 2010

Ever closer to the worst case scenario... 

Apologies for the long excerpts from this NYT story, but this is important (H/T Editilla).


Two weeks ago, the government put out a round estimate of the size of the oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico: 5,000 barrels a day. Repeated endlessly in news reports, it has become conventional wisdom.

But scientists and environmental groups are raising sharp questions about that estimate, declaring that the leak must be far larger.
They also criticize BP for refusing to use well-known scientific techniques that would give a more precise figure.

The criticism escalated on Thursday, a day after the release of a video that showed a huge black plume of oil gushing from the broken well at a seemingly high rate. BP has repeatedly claimed that measuring the plume would be impossible.

The figure of 5,000 barrels a day was hastily produced by government scientists in Seattle. It appears to have been calculated using a method that is specifically not recommended for major oil spills.

Ian R. MacDonald, an oceanographer at Florida State University who is an expert in the analysis of oil slicks, said he had made his own rough calculations using satellite imagery. They suggested that the leak could “easily be four or five times” the government estimate, he said.

“The government has a responsibility to get good numbers,” Dr. MacDonald said. “If it’s beyond their technical capability, the whole world is ready to help them.”

Scientists said that the size of the spill was directly related to the amount of damage it would do in the ocean and onshore, and that calculating it accurately was important for that reason.
...
The issue of how fast the well is leaking has been murky from the beginning. For several days after the April 21 explosion of the Deepwater Horizon rig, the government and BP claimed that the well on the ocean floor was leaking about 1,000 barrels a day.

A small organization called SkyTruth, which uses satellite images to monitor environmental problems, published an estimate on April 27 suggesting that the flow rate had to be at least 5,000 barrels a day, and probably several times that.

The following day, the government — over public objections from BP — raised its estimate to 5,000 barrels a day. A barrel is 42 gallons, so the estimate works out to 210,000 gallons per day.

BP later acknowledged to Congress that the worst case, if the leak accelerated, would be 60,000 barrels a day, a flow rate that would dump a plume the size of the Exxon Valdez spill into the gulf every four days.


So, the ridiculous 1,000 B/D estimate was revised upwards to 5,000 B/D after SkyTruth's analysis, over public objections by BP. The 5k number has congealed into "conventional wisdom", though it's very likely that this is inaccurate and the real number is at least several times higher.

This evening, the Oil Drum cites two recent scientific analyses showing how far off the conventional estimate might be. Answer: massively.

The analysis was conducted by Steve Werely, an associate professor at Purdue University, using a technique called particle image velocimetry. Harris tells Michele Norris that the method is accurate to a degree of plus or minus 20 percent. That means the flow could range between 56,000 barrels a day and 84,000 barrels a day.

Another analysis by Eugene Chiang, a professor of astrophysics at the University of California, Berkeley, calculated the rate of flow to be between 20,000 barrels a day and 100,000 barrels a day.

Does it bother you that these ranges extend beyond the "worst case" leak estimate offered by BP?

Let's just take the rock bottom numbers from both studies, and use those as a conservative range for the Macondo oil spill flow rate. If you do that, then the Macondo disaster is likely spewing between 20,000 to 56,000 barrels per day. (That's pretty massive.) Early on, Skytruth said rates in this range were possible. And for Dr. MacDonald, the oceanographer from FSU, 20k plus was possible if not likely. And now two new studies put the range of the spill rate in the stratosphere. Isn't it about time the media stories on this disaster start talking about an estimated oil flow rate range? And shouldn't that range start no lower than 5,000 b/d and go on up at least to 20,000 b/d? That's about as conservative as you can get at this point, and it's several times the current "conventional wisdom".
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This situation is intolerable and unacceptable. I don't care about the latest cost estimates that BP is feeding the media. And I really don't care about how hard they are working, and how this is like doing remote heart surgery from the Apollo 13. If it's so complicated and expensive, why is one of the solutions to pump golf balls and old tires into the oil gusher? We're sophisticated enough to drill down 18,000 feet for oil but not sophisticated enough to have quick solutions in place for catastrophic emergency? Only after the Oil Kraken is released do we begin brainstorming and constructing Macondoms, top hats, and golf ball pumps? Is that the plan for next time, too?And the affected areas just have to sit and hope that one of these experiments succeeds while the only sure solution (a relief well) will take months to complete? Really?

Don't get me wrong, I pray one of these weird experimental ideas works, but the point is this: we shouldn't be in this mess in the first place! This is insane. If one of the largest oil companies in the world didn't have response plans A, B, and C to immediately solve a catastrophic failure, then they were basically off-loading that immense risk on to others. In this case, the "others" are Gulf Coast states like Louisiana.

I'm totally disgusted by this. It's entirely unacceptable, and likely much worse than BP or the feds are letting on.

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We're Saved! 


There's too many ways to go with this one. Waterworld, Bodyguard, JFK... Feel free to have at it in the comments. Damn generous, though.


From Ecorazzi (via Lovely, who is all about "green gossip"):

Hollywood actor Kevin Costner has stepped forward to help with the Gulf oil spill caused by the April 20 explosion of the BP-operated Deepwater Horizon offshore oil rig.

According to Billy Nungesser, president of Southern Louisiana’s Plaquemines Parish, Costner and his scientist brother Dan, will be in the region to demonstrate a device designed to separate oil and water. Records from the EPA indicate the Costner brothers have promoted an oil-water filtration system in the past through their company Costner Industries Nevada Corporation. Details regarding the device are expected to be revealed tomorrow.

“Sometimes it takes a star to come in with their money and time to make a difference,” Nungesser said at a press conference held by Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal.

The actor is also planning to donate an astounding $26 million toward the cleanup effort.


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Update: The Gambit, which is usually so punctilious about such matters, subsequently tweets the above link to the ecorazzi story, and then does a blog post in short order using a Yahoo story posted yesterday. Wouldn't have minded a hat tip. Update 2: H/T granted! Happy day.

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I was waiting for this one 

Weeks after the spill began, Jim Brown decides to join the online debate in his latest column published on various blogs. He wonders why there wasn't an overwhelming response plan to this major oil spill?

It's a legitimate question. The state, Feds and BP were all slow to mobilize to mitigate the potential scale of this disaster. Naturally, it's easier to see in hindsight, but this current situation where BP breathlessly tries to devise a "top hat" or "junk shot" solution while an underwater oil gusher spews into our coastal waters is absolutely intolerable. The only guaranteed remedy is a relief well which is two or three months away, and the heavier masses of oil are poised to come ashore in three days.

But it is really rich for Jim Brown to make this argument. Consider his observation from today's piece:

[I]t should be no secret that a major oil spill could well take place off the Louisiana coast. All one has to do is to drive the beaches at Grand Isle to view hundreds of oil wells In plane view, A thousand more pepper the Gulf bottom 50 miles or more off shore.

Wow, what an interesting possibility! A possibility that Jim Brown downplayed two years ago, when he stated:

Of the roughly 3,700 offshore oil production platforms in the Gulf of Mexico, some 3,200 lie off the Louisiana coast. Yet Louisiana produces one-third of America’s commercial fisheries and no major oil spill has ever soiled its coast.

On the other hand, Florida, which zealously prohibits offshore oil drilling, had its gorgeous “Emerald Coast” panhandle beaches soiled by an ugly oil spill in 1976. This spill, as almost all oil spills, resulted from the transportation of oil – not from the extraction of oil.

I discussed how misleading this "no major oil spill" claim was here. Brown's position at the time was basically: "Look how many oil production platforms we have! They coexist wonderfully with our fisheries. We've never had a major oil spill because almost all spills come from the transportation of oil."

Today he says: "Look how many oil production platforms we have! It's no secret that a major oil spill could well take place off our coast. Where was the plan?"

Man, that's rich. Where do you get the balls to be so hacktacular? Hmmm. Maybe, just maybe, Mr. Brown, instead of mocking environmental "superstitions" about oil drilling two years ago, you might've said something like:

Louisiana has thousands of drilling rigs off its precious and productive coast. While most oil spills occur from the transportation of oil, just one major oil rig gusher could totally devastate the fisheries and wetlands that nourish and protect the culture-rich communities of South Louisiana. Such a thing has happened before in the Gulf. It wouldn't be unprecedented and we'd be fools to underestimate the chances of it happening again.

While the equivalent of NINETY MAJOR OIL SPILLS occurred after Katrina, we should consider ourselves lucky. It could've been a helluva lot worse! There could've been a catastrophic spill offshore. And we can't afford to have something like that happen, so we need to militate for the strictest regulations on the oil industry, and ensure that the state and the feds make advanced preparations for a potential oil spill disaster. Louisiana is assuming incredibly large risks in order to provide domestic fuels to our oil-addicted nation. We've already seen our wetlands shredded by oil pipelines in recent decades, and we don't want the remaining marsh to be killed off when the next "major spill" occurs.


But no. Two years ago Brown didn't say that or anything like it. Instead, he framed the debate in terms of this false choice:

So here is the bottom line. We can see the price of gasoline continue to rise, and realistically reach five dollars a gallon or more. And we can stand by as the amount of fishing along the Gulf continues to diminish. Or, the nation can follow Louisiana’s lead, reduce the price of gasoline, continue an abundance of quality fishing, and dramatically reduce our oil dependence from countries of questionable allegiance.

If the reaction I received along the east coast this week is any indication, Louisiana still has a lot of educating to do.

Yeah, quite an education we're offering right now. I wonder what the "east coast" will take away from it?

But does Brown even acknowledge that he was part of the vast right-wing chorus minimizing the catastrophic risks of oil drilling in 2008? Hell no! Instead, he has the chutzpah to quote Professor Bea on risk assessment:

Professor Robert G. Bea is a professor at the University of California, Berkeley, who studies offshore drilling. He has been a guest on my radio show following Katrina on a number of occasions. His view is that the Feds “have horribly underestimated the likelihood of a spill and therefore horribly underestimated the consequences of something going wrong. So what we have now is some equivalent of a fire drill with paper towels and buckets for cleanup.”

"Horribly underestimated the likelihood of a spill"? That pretty much describes the legions of conservatives who promoted the "not one drop" lie and the misleading "no major spills" talking point two summers ago. They hid and minimized the catastrophic risks involved for political purposes, and now they act like they never said these things, and complain about the failed planning and regulations-- for a worst case scenario they totally discounted!

Brown concludes today's column by saying "you have to assume there will be a spill". Really? Do ya think? And then he posts a George Carlin quote about American pollution and then signs off, as always, with "Peace and Justice".

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Catching a bad date in mid-air 

Twelve years ago today, I went on a first date with my future wife. It got off to a bad start as she looked at my i.d. to verify that I was not lying about my age. (She suspected I was at least 40 years old.) Then I nervously drove past Mandina's restaurant and she immediately shrieked "You're not going to put me in a box, are you?!?" (She worried I planned to skip dinner and kill her and put her in a box, or vice versa.) Miraculously, the evening improved and we began dating regularly.

On this blog I call my wife Lovely. Privately I refer to her as Spazzmo, for reasons which need no elaboration. I love her dearly. We now have two wonderful daughters and will celebrate ten years of marriage in January, provided the anniversary doesn't fall on a Sunday when Chick-fil-a is closed.

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On May 10, YRHT turned six years old. The only appropriate thing to say about this pathetic addiction blogaversary is: I hardly even care, so why should you?

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Also, I missed Medium Jim's birthday which occurred earlier this week sometime. Medium Jim is a dear, dear friend who I've now known for the majority of my life. Although Jim is very conservative on most issues he is quite liberal with goats, and for that I honor and salute him.
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My sister also celebrated a birthday, two or three days ago. I forgot to call her. She lives in Ohio, so she could probably use some warm wishes from her old bro. I'll make a note to phone her sometime later this month. [Sounds harsh-- it's just a joke.]

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Noles in the news 

Florida State University graduates and attendees have been in the local news the past couple of days.

1) Yesterday the Times Picayune's "Living" section reviewed a documentary about former FSU film student Jim Morrison, who is known for singing in a rock band called The Doors and for self-destructing at an early age. Apparently Morrison's tragic psychic collapse began serious downhill acceleration during a 1970 show in New Orleans. The T-P seems to put its thumb on the scale a bit, as it titles the review "More on Morrison" (Moron, get it?). The film is "American Masters: The Doors: When You're Strange" and will screen at Zeitgeist May 21 through 30 @ 9:30 p.m. (except Saturdays @ 3:30 p.m.) Here is some of Jim Morrison's early filmwork at FSU.




Fun Fakt: "The Doors" were named for the exits you go through at a party once you discover a table of geeks debating whether a singer was a rock poet or drunken wastrel.

I say: why not both?


2) In other Nole News, today's T-P Sports section had a big article on "long-time major leaguer" Doug Mientkiewicz (pronounced "Dug"). A star at FSU, Mientkiewicz currently plays with the Zephyrs and is hoping to get called up by the Florida Marlins today or tomorrow. He has played with a bundle of teams during his 15 year pro career, and won a gold medal at the Sydney Olympics and a World Series ring with the BoSox.

Fun Fakt: The New Orleans Zephyrs take their name from a local alternative radio station from the nineties.


3) The New Orleans Zephyrs are playing a series with the Fresno Grizzlies, who feature rising star (and former FSU standout) Buster Posey. Posey is a catcher who has a bright future in the big leagues with the Giants. He had a torrid night at the plate yesterday:


Fresno’s top prospect catcher Buster Posey pummeled Zephyrs pitching Wednesday night.

He went 3-for-5 with three doubles, three RBIs and two runs scored as the Grizzlies knocked off the Zephyrs 7-1 at Zephyr Field.

Posey’s biggest blow came in the eighth inning as his two-run double gave the Grizzlies a 6-1 cushion.

Fun Fakt: Buster Posey was named in tribute to Buster Poindexter and Parker Posey.


4) Coincidentally, tonight is "Seminole Night at the Zephyrs". So Pearlgirl and I are going to the game early, and will get to meet Buster Posey and perhaps he'll sign a baseball for us. If Seminole Night doesn't float your boat, then I'll also remind you that it's "Thirsty Thursday" at Zephyr field. Remember when you could purchase inexpensive beers at a sporting event? I don't either. So come on down, make new memories.

Fun Fakt: Due to current coastal atmospheric conditions, players don't have to oil new gloves or put tar on their bats.

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I'll be listening to "Where's that Hit?", a good baseball song by the Australian band Hoodoo Gurus. (Huh?) No link.

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Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Family values is the new gay 

Josh Marshall asks:


Who's more likely to be gay? Unmarried, middle-aged woman or televangelist/family values pol?

Seems like a toss up.

But as for the anti-gay bigots who travel Europe with companions found on rentboy.com and who explain their, erm, circumstances by saying "Oh, him? Lucien is merely my personal masseuse and baggage handler"... Those guys probably have some issues to work out.

H/T Medium Jim

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Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Forgotten flood 

Good for Taylor Swift, who donated $500k to flood-recovery efforts in Nashville. You can donate ten bucks by texting RED CROSS to 90999 on your cell phone. (Preferably not when you're driving.)
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Worser and worser 

From Noladder, we find this MSNBC article which is (mis)titled "How bad can the spill get?" I don't dwell on these worst case scenarios out of some morbid fascination. I dwell on them because I am convinced that the so-called "worst case scenarios" are much nearer to reality than the "5k barrels/day" estimates and the breathless "maybe the macondoms will work" media coverage. In my view, we're looking at a likely three month gusher spewing at least 10-25 thousand barrels a day. That's the likeliest scenario, yet it's not treated as such.

One factor that could make the worst-case scenario even worse is the possibility that coastal communities will have to deal with the spill for months or years.

Ya think?. There's a "possibility" that coastal communities will have to deal with the spill for "months". Way to go out on a limb, there.

"If we have a three-month oil spill, we're talking about absolute devastation of the largest coastal fishery in the U.S.," Ralph Portier, an environmental science professor at Louisiana State University, told [MSNBC].

That's better. And by "better" I mean "probably a more accurate forecast".
Louisiana State University's Ralph Portier said that if the flow of oil were to increase significantly, dispersants couldn't handle the surface spill. The worst-case scenario would probably look like Exxon Valdez in the short term, with chronic environmental degradation in the long term. "We'll end up with the 'peanut butter and jelly sandwich,'"...

Wait, "PBJ"? That's a new one. Is he referring to the Governor?


"Surface oiling event, bird populations oiled, and then we're going to end up with a dispersant event for many months after."

Uh, if you wanna call that a pbj sandwich that's fine, but I don't get the metaphor. In the meantime let's cross our fingers and hope the "top hat" or the "junk shot" solutions-on-the-fly are successful. Otherwise, we might be dealing with the aftereffects of this 5k b/d "spill" for "months".

*rolling eyes* (If only...)

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Residual risk 

In an engrossing T-P article, Prof. Robert Bea shares details from his investigations into the causes of the explosions on the drilling rig. The bottom line, though, is risk.

Bea believes the narrative he is creating raises serious questions about the risk assessments used by BP and the Minerals Management Service, the federal agency charged with determining whether the drilling plans were adequate.

'The same trail of tears led to Katrina ... and it's showing up here again,' professor Robert Bea says. They failed to address what's called "residual risk," those things that planners don't think will fail. And in doing so, they underestimated the risk in ways very similar to the engineers who designed New Orleans' levee system, Bea said.

"BP fell into the same damn trap, and they were not engineering; they were 'imagineering,'" he said. "Risk analysis continues to mislead us because we're only looking at part of the risk."

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Monday, May 10, 2010

You might've put the fun in funeral, but we put the oil in New Oilyuns 

Bob Marshall thinks some things have intrinsic value, and the total value of a ruined coast can't be adequately monetized for its "citizen-owners"... Hahahaha!! Where did they get this guy? What a hippie dreamer socialist!

That's almost as naively funny as when the Cunning Realist stated in passing (in an important commentary at the cusp of the Great Recession) that "If conservatism is the preservation of things that are intrinsically valuable..." Bwahahahahahahaha! Give my regards to Teddy Roosevelt, Gramps! Show me the conservatives in 2010 who self-identify by that standard... please! You'll have a better chance of finding a dodo bird (or a louisiana pelican in june that doesn't need a Dawn soap bath followed by a shot of pepto b).

BP wants the lawsuits against it consolidated in Houston rather than, say, New Orleans. I bet they do. Because if Houston is about anything, it's about preserving the intrinsically valuable things in Louisiana.

See, Houston is a city that understands the sacred free market can't be gamed or regulated, and it should be trusted to price everything-- from catastrophic black swan risks to the clean air your kids intend to breathe this summer. (I'd reckon that must be worth 25 bucks a lung. At most. Maybe less.) BP and their lawyerBotts know Houston is a good venue to argue that everything in this world has a price tag, and that "intrinsic" is another eco-terrorist code word for unquantifiable damages-- a phantasmagoric, anti-capitalist idea invented by greedy trial lawyers . How do you even say "preserve things with intrinsic value" in Houston, without feeling like a fool?

If you understood the free market, New Orleans, you'd know that the invisible hand can properly monetize your precious "outdoors experiences". For example, those oak trees on St Chuck avenue you find so lovely... ya don't think they have a price? Shoot, gas up the chainsaws and let the bidding begin! Then let er rip. We can unshade your avenue and balance your city's budget in no time!

And as for your complaints about the Karo-sene scented air (like the syrup!)-- well, your sensitive nostrils obviously never spent a humid summer in Baytown, Tejas. Now, that's bad. Compared to Baytown, Sulphur Louisiana smells like Pleasures perfume. Perhaps your tender, feminine New Orleanian spirits might not be accustomed to the smell of basic fossil fuel necessity-- or is it American lifestyle victory? In either case, on occasion, it can be quite acrid. [True story: the first time Dick Cheney went to Baytown, he asked "Satan, did you fart?"]

So don't think you're going to get a favorable class-action venue for your quaint complaints about your alleged "losses". Don't you New Orleanians know that British Petroleum is spending millions of dollars each day to clean up this chocolate milk spill for you guys? Where's the gratitude? They're doing the equivalent of remote heart surgery from the Apollo 13 rocket using only long chopsticks, and you have the temerity to prattle on about the "intrinsic" worth of taking your kids out in the marsh to watch pelicans?! Seriously? Y'all knew the environmental risks of having Big Oil in your state (unless you listened to Big Oil or their political stooges), and now you complain because the crude hit the fan?! Don't you appreciate the blessed American way of life that you've taken for granted all these years? Don't you have a kind word to say about the Hellfighters at Halliburton, who are risking their lives on your behalf?

Why don't you pack up your personal virtues and ride your bicycle back to Afghanistan, if that's how you feel, you thankless statist-socialist-fascist-eco-terrorist faggots?

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Seriously, the air stinks tonight. My eyes are watering and my throat hurts. After another week of this I'll be making inconsiderate references to Bhopal and Minimata. Then hurricane season. Yikes. Should Lovely and I take the Pearlgirls (3 and 6) on an extended summer vacation as the Gulf Coast oil river heats up and putrifies? Would you? Will BP reimburse us for a therapeutic oil-respite holiday?
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Indulge me again, as I embed some nihilistic horsecore from a Houston band called Dead Horse. This is likely not for you, but the consolations of gothic punk and quasi-death metal cannot be overstated at times like these:



I went to the park, to meet the lark. The lark weren't there, but I don't care.

You addict! You whore! You'd f--- the world, but everyone's a whore... What is in the sky is in the blood is in the brain.
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Well I warned you. They'll scorn you. As old as they feel, they don't feel anything. So breathe all you can while you can... Is it gonna be alright?!? NOOO!!!!

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Note: some slight edits made after publishing.

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Sunday, May 09, 2010

"It's called the Toxic Waltz, and it's causing devastation" 

Facing South:

Hurricane Creekkeeper John Wathen of Alabama and volunteer pilot Tom Hutchings of SouthWings flew over the Gulf of Mexico on Friday to get a look at the massive oil slick spreading from the site of the BP disaster.

At nine miles out, they began to smell the oil. At 11 miles, they saw a visible sheen on the water.

And at mile 87 off the Alabama coast, they reached ground zero of the disaster -- what Wathen described as a "red mass of floating goo" as far as the eye can see."The Gulf appears to be bleeding," he said."For the first time in my environmental career, I find myself using the word 'hopeless,'" Wathen continued. "We can't stop this. There's no way to prevent this from hitting our shorelines." [Video here.]


Someone needs to inform Mr. Wathen that "goo" is not on the Official List of Oilspill Metaphors. Next time, he should compare what he sees to a food or beverage. In this case, "Red gravy" or "delectable meuniere" would be preferable.

WSJ: via Climate Progress


For Tony Hayward, who has led BP for the last three years, the accident threatens to overshadow all of the efforts he has made to burnish the tattered reputation of the company after a refinery explosion in Texas in 2005 and a pipeline leak in Alaska in 2006.

As Mr. Hayward said to fellow executives in his London office recently, “What the hell did we do to deserve this?”

I don't have a clue what you did (H/T Zombie), but surely "deserve's got nuttin' to do wit it". Surely. Besides, it's "crazy" and "insanely unproductive" to think that way. So there, there, Mr. Hayward. Keep a stiff upper lip and a twitchy finger on the rip cord to your golden parachute. I'm quite sure you and your fellow executives will find a way to pull through this corporate tragedy.

Raw Story via Singularity:

While the cause of the explosion is still under investigation, the sequence of events described in [BP's interviews with rig workers] provides the most detailed account of the April 20 blast that killed 11 workers and touched off the underwater gusher that has poured more than 3 million gallons of crude into the Gulf.

Portions of the interviews, two written and one taped, were described in detail to an Associated Press reporter by Robert Bea, a University of California Berkeley engineering professor who serves on a National Academy of Engineering panel on oil pipeline safety and worked for BP PLC as a risk assessment consultant during the 1990s. He received them from industry friends seeking his expert opinion.

A group of BP executives were on board the Deepwater Horizon rig celebrating the project's safety record, according to the transcripts. Meanwhile, far below, the rig was being converted from an exploration well to a production well.
...

Up on the rig, the first thing workers noticed was the sea water in the drill column suddenly shooting back at them, rocketing 240 feet in the air, he said. Then, gas surfaced. Then oil.

"What we had learned when I worked as a drill rig laborer was swoosh, boom, run," Bea said. "The swoosh is the gas, boom is the explosion and run is what you better be doing."

The gas flooded into an adjoining room with exposed ignition sources, he said.

"That's where the first explosion happened," said Bea, who worked for Shell Oil in the 1960s during the last big northern Gulf of Mexico oil well blowout. "The mud room was next to the quarters where the party was. Then there was a series of explosions that subsequently ignited the oil that was coming from below."
The party room is next to the mud room. Enquiring minds wonder, "why not both"?

Anyway, now that the Oil Kraken has been released and isn't hurrying to go back in his cage, we can expect the liberal socialists in charge to enact a flurry of draconian over-regulations upon helpless Big Oil. Some on the right view this potentiality as the "real" disaster. Whereas Socialist dictator Fidel Castro thinks "the spreading oil slick fouling the Gulf of Mexico is proof that the world's most powerful governments cannot control large corporations that now dictate the public's destiny". I mean, how out of touch can a senile old Marxist get?

Prove'em both wrong with the responsible middle path, President Obama!

Since the Deepwater Horizon oil drilling rig exploded on April 20, the Obama administration has granted oil and gas companies at least 27 exemptions from doing in-depth environmental studies of oil exploration and production in the Gulf of Mexico.

The waivers were granted despite President Barack Obama’s vow that his administration would launch a “relentless response effort” to stop the leak and prevent more damage to the gulf. One of them was dated Friday — the day after Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said he was temporarily halting offshore drilling.


The exemptions, known as “categorical exclusions,” were granted by the Interior Department’s Minerals Management Service (MMS) and included waiving detailed environmental studies for a BP exploration plan to be conducted at a depth of more than 4,000 feet and an Anadarko Petroleum Corp. exploration plan at more 9,000 feet...
Eff it all. I'm going to the parlor to read Masque of the Red Meuniere, to take my mind off this hopelessness. Enjoy this thrashy cut from Exodus' Fabulous Disaster album.

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