Friday, June 11, 2010

Librarians Do Gaga

(h/t Gabe)

World's Oldest Leather Shoe

Bet it doesn't have that much 'support':
The world's oldest leather shoe, 1000 years older than the Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt and 400 years older than Stonehenge in Britain, has been found perfectly preserved in a cave in Armenia.

The 5500-year-old shoe was discovered by a team of international archaeologists, who reported details of their finding on Wednesday. It is made of a single piece of cow-hide leather, had laces, and was shaped to fit the wearer's foot.

It is 24.5cm long, 7.6cm to 10cm wide, and dates back to around 3500BC, an era known as the Chalcolithic period.

...The cave where the discovery was made is in the Vayotz Dzor province of Armenia, on the Armenian-Iranian-Turkish borders.

Pinhasi said the stable, cool and dry conditions in the cave meant the various objects found there were very well preserved.

Other finds included large ceramic containers, many of which held wheat, barley, apricots and other edible plants.

The team said preservation was also helped by the fact that the floor of the cave was covered by a thick layer of sheep dung which acted as a solid seal over the objects, keeping them safe for several millennia.

...The oldest known footwear in the world are sandals thought to be around 2500 years older than the Armenian leather shoe. They were found in a cave in Missouri in the United States.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

"Crazy For You" - DMTC - Thursday Night Rehearsal

Danielle Hansen as 'Polly'
Joseph Boyette as 'Bobby', plus Angela Yee, Linda Abrille, Christina Rae, and Brittany Bickel.

Grooveland - Tell Me (Superstar De Luxe extended RMX)

Maybe The Start Of Grass-Roots Protests?

Maybe this is where it begins:
WASHINGTON — A Senate hearing on the Gulf of Mexico oil spill was disrupted Wednesday as a protester poured an oily-looking liquid on herself before being arrested.

"This is what it feels like to have oil dumped on you," the woman, identified as Diane Wilson, said in comments addressed to Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska.

Wilson issued a statement issued later saying she is a fourth generation shrimper from the Gulf and that her protest was directed against Murkowski for supporting the oil industry and opposing measures such as lifting the liability cap on oil firms in offshore spills.
Or maybe it begins here:
(Southaven, MS) -- Windows at the BP Gas Station on Highway 51 at Custer Drive were shot out overnight. Folks who work at the store believe the suspects were expressing anger over BP and how it's handling the oil spill.

"I believe that would be the reason," said Alex Saleh. "We don't have any enemies." He said nothing was taken from the store after the windows were destroyed.
Goodness knows there is a Tower of Rage out there that hasn't found an outlet.

My own boycott of ARCO & AM/PM has been in effect since May 23rd. The boycott runs afoul of my previous (admittedly leaky) boycott of Chevron for its heavy reliance on terror-promoting Saudi imports. It's hard, in an impure, multinational-conglomerate-addled world, to keep one's boycotts in working order. If I'm not careful, I'll get stuck with Valero as the only place I can buy gas, and they're hardly pure - they've got California-related problems too.

Narrow Escape!

(Image from here)

Tuesday election results:
Proposition 16: Local Electricity Providers
1,837,303 47.6% yes
2,019,686 52.4% no
But how long before PG&E lashes back?

Like Ralph Waldo Emerson used to say:
“When you strike at a king, you must kill him”
It's time to put PG&E on the defensive again. It's time to make new efforts to carve up PG&E territory, limit their monopoly, and expand low-cost, accountable public power!

It's Almost Like Being There!

New, from Deborah McMillion-Nering.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Marvellous Expose In "Rolling Stone" Regarding BP's Oil Spill

It's been amazing to watch just how inept - corrupted, actually - the Obama Administration's handling of the BP oil spill has been. It's even more amazing to watch BP's epic, even-more-than-criminal mismanagement of the thing, and suffer through their torrent of incessant lies. Clearly the truth means something utterly different in oil circles than it does to anyone else (from The Onion):
As the crisis in the Gulf of Mexico entered its eighth week Wednesday, fears continued to grow that the massive flow of bullshit still gushing from the headquarters of oil giant BP could prove catastrophic if nothing is done to contain it.
The Onion can only touch the surface: the Rolling Stone digs deeper:
Like the attacks by Al Qaeda, the disaster in the Gulf was preceded by ample warnings – yet the administration had ignored them. Instead of cracking down on MMS, as he had vowed to do even before taking office, Obama left in place many of the top officials who oversaw the agency's culture of corruption. He permitted it to rubber-stamp dangerous drilling operations by BP – a firm with the worst safety record of any oil company – with virtually no environmental safeguards, using industry-friendly regulations drafted during the Bush years. He calibrated his response to the Gulf spill based on flawed and misleading estimates from BP – and then deployed his top aides to lowball the flow rate at a laughable 5,000 barrels a day, long after the best science made clear this catastrophe would eclipse the Exxon Valdez.

...Even worse, the "moratorium" on drilling announced by the president does little to prevent future disasters. The ban halts exploratory drilling at only 33 deepwater operations, shutting down less than one percent of the total wells in the Gulf. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, the Cabinet-level official appointed by Obama to rein in the oil industry, boasts that "the moratorium is not a moratorium that will affect production" – which continues at 5,106 wells in the Gulf, including 591 in deep water.

Most troubling of all, the government has allowed BP to continue deep-sea production at its Atlantis rig – one of the world's largest oil platforms. Capable of drawing 200,000 barrels a day from the seafloor, Atlantis is located only 150 miles off the coast of Louisiana, in waters nearly 2,000 feet deeper than BP drilled at Deepwater Horizon. According to congressional documents, the platform lacks required engineering certification for as much as 90 percent of its subsea components – a flaw that internal BP documents reveal could lead to "catastrophic" errors.

...Enter the Bush administration. Rather than heeding such warnings, MMS simply assumed that a big spill couldn't happen. "There was a complete failure to even contemplate the possibility of a disaster like the one in the Gulf," says Holly Doremus, an environmental-law expert at the University of California. "In their thinking, a big spill would be something like 5,000 barrels, and the oil wouldn't even reach the shoreline." In fact, Bush's five-year plan for offshore drilling described a "large oil spill" as no more than 1,500 barrels. In April 2007, an environmental assessment covering the area where BP would drill concluded that blowouts were "low probability and low risk," even though a test funded by MMS had found that blowout preventers failed 28 percent of the time.

...In reality, MMS had little way to assess the risk to wildlife, since a new policy instituted under Bush scrapped environmental analysis and fast-tracked permits. Declaring that oil companies themselves were "in the best position to determine the environmental effects" of drilling, the new rules pre-qualified deep-sea drillers to receive a "categorical exclusion" – an exemption from environmental review that was originally intended to prevent minor projects, like outhouses on hiking trails, from being tied up in red tape.

...Nowhere was the absurdity of the policy more evident than in the application that BP submitted for its Deepwater Horizon well only two months after Obama took office. ... Instead, it cites an Oil Spill Response Plan that it had prepared for the entire Gulf region. Among the sensitive species BP anticipates protecting in the semitropical Gulf? "Walruses" and other cold-water mammals, including sea otters and sea lions. The mistake appears to be the result of a sloppy cut-and-paste job from BP's drilling plans for the Arctic. Even worse: Among the "primary equipment providers" for "rapid deployment of spill response resources," BP inexplicably provides the Web address of a Japanese home-shopping network. Such glaring errors expose the 582-page response "plan" as nothing more than a paperwork exercise. "It was clear that nobody read it," says Ruch, who represents government scientists.

..."People are being really circumspect, not pointing the finger at Salazar and Obama," says Rep. Raul Grijalva, who oversees the Interior Department as chair of the House subcommittee on public lands. "But the troublesome point is, the administration knew that it had this rot in the middle of the process on offshore drilling – yet it empowered an already discredited, disgraced agency to essentially be in charge."

...BP is the last oil company on Earth that Salazar and MMS should have allowed to regulate itself. The firm is implicated in each of the worst oil disasters in American history, dating back to the Exxon Valdez in 1989. At the time, BP directed the industry consortium that bungled the cleanup response to Valdez during the fateful early hours of the spill, when the worst of the damage occurred. Vital equipment was buried under snow, no cleanup ship was standing by and no containment barge was available to collect skimmed oil. Exxon, quickly recognizing what still seems to elude the Obama administration, quickly shunted BP aside and took control of the spill.

In March 2006, BP was responsible for an Alaska pipeline rupture that spilled more than 250,000 gallons of crude into Prudhoe Bay – at the time, a spill second in size only to the Valdez disaster. Investigators found that BP had repeatedly ignored internal warnings about corrosion brought about by "draconian" cost cutting. The company got off cheap in the spill: While the EPA recommended slapping the firm with as much as $672 million in fines, the Bush administration allowed it to settle for just $20 million.

...The company applied the same deadly cost-cutting mentality to its oil rig in the Gulf. BP, it is important to note, is less an oil company than a bank that finances oil exploration; unlike ExxonMobil, which owns most of the equipment it uses to drill, BP contracts out almost everything. That includes the Deepwater Horizon rig that it leased from a firm called Transocean. BP shaved $500,000 off its overhead by deploying a blowout preventer without a remote-control trigger – a fail-safe measure required in many countries but not mandated by MMS, thanks to intense industry lobbying. It opted to use cheap, single-walled piping for the well, and installed only six of the 21 cement spacers recommended by its contractor, Halliburton – decisions that significantly increased the risk of a severe explosion. It also skimped on critical testing that could have shown whether explosive gas was getting into the system as it was being cemented, and began removing mud that protected the well before it was sealed with cement plugs.

...The effect of leaving BP in charge of capping the well, says a scientist involved in the government side of the effort, has been "like a drunk driver getting into a car wreck and then helping the police with the accident investigation." Indeed, the administration has seemed oddly untroubled about leaving the Gulf's fate in the hands of a repeat criminal offender, and uncurious about the crimes that may have been committed leading up to the initial sinking of the rig. The Obama Justice Department took more than 40 days after the initial blast killed 11 workers to announce it was opening a criminal probe.

From the start, the administration has seemed intent on allowing BP to operate in near-total secrecy. Much of what the public knows about the crisis it owes to Rep. Ed Markey, who chairs the House Subcommittee on Energy and the Environment. Under pressure from Markey, BP was forced to release footage of the gusher, admit that its early estimates put the leak as high as 14,000 barrels a day and post a live feed of its undersea operations on the Internet – video that administration officials had possessed from the earliest days of the disaster. "We cannot trust BP," Markey said. "It's clear they have been hiding the actual consequences of this spill."

But rather than applying such skepticism to BP's math, the Obama administration has instead attacked scientists who released independent estimates of the spill. When one scientist funded by NOAA released a figure much higher than the government's estimate, he found himself being pressured to retract it by officials at the agency. "Are you sure you want to keep saying this?" they badgered him. Lubchenco, the head of NOAA, even denounced as "misleading" and "premature" reports that scientists aboard the research vessel Pelican had discovered a massive subsea oil plume. Speaking to PBS, she offered a bizarre denial of the obvious. "It's clear that there is something at depth," she said, "but we don't even know that it's oil yet."

Scientists were stunned that NOAA, an agency widely respected for its scientific integrity, appeared to have been co-opted by the White House spin machine. "NOAA has actively pushed back on every fact that has ever come out," says one ocean scientist who works with the agency. "They're denying until the facts are so overwhelming, they finally come out and issue an admittance." Others are furious at the agency for criticizing the work of scientists studying the oil plumes rather than leading them. "Why they didn't have vessels there right then and start to gather the scientific data on oil and what the impacts are to different organisms is inexcusable," says a former government marine biologist. "They should have been right on top of that." Only six weeks into the disaster did the agency finally deploy its own research vessel to investigate the plumes.

...Both the government and BP have reasons to downplay the extent of the spill. For BP, the motive is financial: Under the Clean Water Act, the company could owe fines of as much as $4,300 for every barrel spilled, in addition to royalties for the oil it is squandering. For the Obama administration, the disaster threatens to derail the president's plan to expand offshore drilling. "It's crystal clear what the federal response to the tragedy ought to be," said Sen. Frank Lautenberg, who chairs the Senate subcommittee on environmental health. "Bring a dangerous offshore drilling pursuit to an end."

The administration, however, has made clear that it has no intention of reversing its plan to expand offshore drilling. Four weeks into the BP disaster, when Salazar was questioned in a Senate hearing about the future of the president's plan, he was happy to stand up for the industry's desire to drill at any cost. "Isn't it true," asked Sen. Lamar Alexander, a Republican from Tennessee, "that as terrible as the tragedy is, that unless we want $14, $16, $18, $20-a-gallon gasoline, that it's not realistic to think that we would actually stop drilling for oil in the Gulf?" Unbowed by the catastrophe that was still unfolding on his watch, Salazar heartily agreed, testifying that the president had directed him to "move forward" on offshore drilling.

That may help explain why the administration has gone to unusual lengths to contain the spill's political fallout. On May 14th, two days after the first video of the gusher was released, the government allowed BP to apply a toxic dispersant that is banned in England at the source of the leak – an unprecedented practice in the deep ocean. "The effort should be in recovering the oil, not making it more difficult to recover by dispersing it," says Sylvia Earle, a famed oceanographer and former NOAA chief scientist who helped the agency confront the world's worst-ever oil spill in the Persian Gulf after the first Iraq War. The chemical assault appeared geared, she says, "to improving the appearance of the problem rather than solving the problem."

Thinking About "Breaking Bad" Film Locations

For an Albuquerque native like myself, watching AMC's television series "Breaking Bad" is an amazing experience, because so many of the locales are recognizable, or nearly so. Even though I live in California now, I yearn to see these places again, and find out where the nearly-recognizable places are located.

Interestingly, this part-time Albuquerque resident has experienced the same yearning, and she devoted a lot of effort to tracking these places down, taking pictures of them, and posting Google placemarks. Like me, she had become obsessed with the precise shooting locales.

For example, the high school was driving me nuts, because it clearly was one of the newer high schools in town - but which one? She identifies the high school as Rio Rancho High School. The school didn't exist when I lived there, but when I was in high school I used to love to hike to Loma Colorado, the large, red hill that gives the school's street its name, and look at the ancient Rio Grande river mud frozen into rock on the hillside there. Ah, memories! When I visit in July, I want to take a little time and do something similar, analogous, or complementary to what she did.

There must be something about being expatriate Albuquerqueans that makes the yearning so keen for us. For much of my life, all I wanted to do was get away from seeing the Hi-Lo Market every day. Now, all I want to do is make sure the Hi-Lo Market is still there. And did I ever anticipate wanting to see the Octopus Car Wash again? I mean, who could ever have anticipated that?

Judging from a few comments on some Web Site I was looking at yesterday, I think there might be small-scale tours led by fans already underway in town. If the series continues, it could even become a small-scale business, reminiscent of the bus tours of SF's Haight-Ashbury District in the 60's; or, more recently, LA's 'Cholo' bus tour, or the bus tour of the Colorado Strip polygamous communities of southern Utah and northern Arizona. "Here we have a typical Albuquerque mobile home, and its atypical low-life owner. Wave at him, folks: for a fee, he'll let you take his picture! Despite his ferocious, whacked-out appearance, and his numerous tattoos, he's pretty clean, and excepting that one bad week in 2002, he's been off drugs since 1995!"

Recycling Those Tea Leaves

It looks like the economy is stronger this year than last year, but not as strong as in 2007 and 2008.

Election Night At Adam Sartain Headquarters

Left: Candidate Adam Sartain monitors the election results.
Tuesday night wasn't the kindest to Adam, but there were some grace notes nevertheless. In the Assembly District 9 race, Adam spent only about $16 per vote; roughly on a par with fellow candidate Lauren Hammond's campaign, and in stark contrast to more than $100/vote by fellow candidate Chris Garland. In addition, mapping software showed that Adam's percentage of the vote was higher in the neighborhoods he canvassed on foot.
Left: Campaign Manager Leighton Worthey provides inspiration.
When election returns provided fodder for humor, Adam and Leighton played suitable sound effects (e.g., wah-wah-wah) on a boom box.
Left: Campaign Mascot 'Midas' provides companionship. On Election Night, every candidate needs a canine!

As of Wednesday, June 9th, 1:34 a.m., the Assembly District 9 election results are as follows:
Kevin McCarty - 9,359 - 35.2%
Roger Dickinson - 9,294 - 35.0%
Lauren Hammond - 5,003 - 18.8%
Chris Garland - 2,278 - 8.5%
Adam Sartain - 691 - 2.5%

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Where'd They Put That Reunion?

I was several keystrokes away from confirming my plane reservations to attend my 36th high school reunion in Albuquerque this coming weekend, when I thought I should double-check the reunion times and location. Turns out, they moved the reunion to the weekend of July 24th. So, I've got a month-and-a-half to figure out how to present myself as more successful than I really am....

Wading Through The Election Mailers

I wanted to do a more thorough analyses of these, but wouldn't you know, Election Day is already here! So, just an impressionistic sense....

It's very impressive how many gubernatorial candidates from the 2003 California Recall are on today's gubernatorial and lieutenant gubernatorial ballot: Eric Korevaar, Chuck Pineda, Jr., Robert Newman, and Bill Chambers. Plus, Daniel Watts is running for Davis City Council. I'm sure there are others out there too. What was old is new again! [Update: I voted for Chuck Pineda, Jr. I met him in the 2003 race and I have a soft spot for the guy. He really wants to help East LA gang members to give up the gang life. For lieutenant governor, I voted for Eric Korevaar. A fellow scientist! I don't know his positions on the issues, but I did meet him once, also in 2003!]

In the District 5 City Council race, the candidates are mostly very capable, which makes decisions hard. Patrick Kennedy's campaign has been the scrappiest, most-innovative, and most interesting one. Terre Johnson seems to have faded from view somehow. Nevertheless, I will probably vote for Jay Schenirer. [Update: Indeed I voted for Schenirer, and I'm shocked to see how overwhelming his victory in District 5 was!]

In Assembly District 9, Chris Garland's amusingly sleazy attack on Kevin McCarty left no real damage. Roger Dickinson damaged himself with all his whining about Wall Street being the source of Sacramento's budget problems. Lauren Hammond has been lower-profile than I expected in this campaign: she retains a lot of respect in the area, though, and could provide an upset. Nevertheless, I'm a friend of Adam Sartain, so I'll vote for him today. (And head over to his house after DMTC rehearsal tonight - for the victory celebration?? Quien sabe??) [Update: See nearby blogpost.]

The mailer that really annoyed me was the 'Latino' mailer. What a joke that mailer is! Only half-wit Latinos will follow their advice. Every issue they identify as important to Latinos they suggest voting in such a way as to hurt Latinos. It's this practice of selling space to candidates and ballot measure campaigns that really destroys the integrity of these mailers. Even the 'Green' mailer sells out, but not as bad as the 'Latino' mailer.

I'm just disappointed in these mailers! I should send out my own mailer!

I will vote NO on the propositions (with a possible yes on 15). [Update: I voted yes on 13 and 15. In some kind of crazy spasm, California voters demonstrated a real urge to vote yes on all the propositions in this election.]

Vote NO! on Proposition 16! A Yes victory could seriously damage non-profit community theaters, and businesses of all kinds, since, without the effective competition provided by public power agencies like SMUD or LAW&P, PG&E would essentially have a monopoly over electrical power generation and could raise rates without challenge (with the last remaining, weak, feeble resistance coming at the CA CEC). Only half-wit Latinos will vote Yes on 16! Don't be a half-wit Latino!

[Update: Words can't express my shock in seeing how close the Proposition 16 race is! It's as if, after Godzilla devastates the Japanese countryside and approaches the city limits of Tokyo, the Tokyo voters held a referendum whether to permit Gozilla to enter the city limits, and the voters split 50-50 over the question. WTF? Are people crazy? It's Godzilla (aka, PG&E) for crying out loud!

This measure had better go down to defeat or we are all screwed!]

"Crazy For You" - DMTC - Monday Night Rehearsal

"I Got Rhythm"

Monday, June 07, 2010

Free At Last

Bernie Madoff:
But that evening an inmate badgered Madoff about the victims of his $65 billion scheme, and kept at it. According to K. C. White, a bank robber and prison artist who escorted a sick friend that evening, Madoff stopped smiling and got angry. “Fuck my victims,” he said, loud enough for other inmates to hear. “I carried them for twenty years, and now I’m doing 150 years.”

For Bernie Madoff, living a lie had once been a full-time job, which carried with it a constant, nagging anxiety. “It was a nightmare for me,” he told investigators, using the word over and over, as if he were the real victim. “I wish they caught me six years ago, eight years ago,” he said in a little-noticed interview with them.

And so prison offered Madoff a measure of relief. Even his first stop, the hellhole of Metropolitan Correctional Center (MCC), where he was locked down 23 hours a day, was a kind of asylum. He no longer had to fear the knock on the door that would signal “the jig was up,” as he put it. And he no longer had to express what he didn’t feel. Bernie could be himself. Pollard’s former cellmate John Bowler recalls a conversation between Pollard and Madoff: “Bernie was telling a story about an old lady. She was bugging him for her money, so he said to her, ‘Here’s your money,’ and gave her a check. When she saw the amount she says, ‘That’s unbelievable,’ and she says, ‘Take it back.’ And urged her friends [to invest].”

Pollard thought that taking advantage of old ladies was “kind of fucked up.”

“Well, that’s what I did,” Madoff said matter-of-factly.

“You are going to pay with God,” Pollard warned.

Madoff was unmoved. He was past apologizing. In prison, he crafted his own version of events. From MCC, Madoff explained the trap he was in. “People just kept throwing money at me,” Madoff related to a prison consultant who advised him on how to endure prison life. “Some guy wanted to invest, and if I said no, the guy said, ‘What, I’m not good enough?’ ” One day, Shannon Hay, a drug dealer who lived in the same unit in Butner as Madoff, asked about his crimes. “He told me his side. He took money off of people who were rich and greedy and wanted more,” says Hay, who was released in December. People, in other words, who deserved it.

...Remarkably, that ego appears to have survived intact. H. David Kotz, the Security and Exchange Commission’s inspector general, investigated his agency’s failure to uncover Madoff’s Ponzi scheme, and Madoff volunteered to speak to him—he is, no doubt, the world’s expert on the subject. He quickly reminded Kotz of his stature—“I wrote a good portion of the rules when it comes to trading,” Madoff said. He insisted that he’d been “a good trader” with a solid strategy, explaining that he’d stumbled into trouble because of his success. Hedge funds—“just marketers,” he said with evident disgust—pushed cash on him. He overcommitted, got behind, and generated a few imaginary trades, figuring he’d make it up—and never did. Whatever his own missteps, Madoff saved his scorn for the SEC. He did impressions of its agents, leaning back with his hands behind his head just as one self-serious agent did—“a guy who comes on like he’s Columbo,” but who was “an idiot,” Madoff said, as recorded in the extraordinary exhibit 104, a twelve-page account of the interview that is part of Kotz’s report. Madoff is no ironist. His disdain for the SEC is professional, even if the agency’s incompetence saved his skin for years—all Columbo had to do was make one phone call. “[It’s] accounting 101,” Madoff told Kotz, still amazed.

Madoff’s ego was on display in prison, too. ... One evening, Bowler, a drug trafficker (“I’m not a con man, I’m a businessman,” he wrote to me), sat next to Madoff watching a 60 Minutes segment about him. Prison authorities keep the volume off, and inmates wear headphones and tune in to the radio signal that broadcasts the sound. Bowler removed one earpiece. “ ‘Bernie, you got ’em for millions,’ I said to him. ‘No, billions,’ he told me.” Another evening, one former inmate was watching a TV news report on the auction of Madoff’s much-chronicled watch collection—he owned more than 40, from Rolexes to a Piaget. The watch featured that evening fetched just $900, and Madoff, whose only watch now is a Timex Ironman that he bought at the commissary for $41.65 and is likely engraved with his inmate number, called out, “They told me that watch was worth $200,000.” The inmates laughed along with him. They didn’t see any reason for Madoff to regret his past. “If I’d lived that well for 70 years, I wouldn’t care that I ended up in prison,” Evans says.

...Prisoners crowded Madoff seeking investment advice—missing the fact that Madoff, being a con man, hadn’t invested for years. Other convicts saw in him a fellow entrepreneur, ignoring the obvious fact that his scheme wasn’t a business at all, just smoke and mirrors. But Madoff had amassed the symbols of success, and for criminals, that counts.

Oily Crystal Ball

Today's NOGAPS weather forecasts suggests tropical storms will arrive in the Caribbean south of Haiti in about a week. That would mean maybe nearly two weeks before they start seeing storm activity near the Deepwater Horizon.

Then again, NOGAPS is a 'Chicken Little' kind of tropical forecasting tool: it nucleates hurricanes faster than Tiger Woods changes girl friends. Maybe the Gulf will have good weather for a couple of weeks. Still, at some point, NOGAPS will be right. A storm will approach, the ships will be forced to leave, and that incredibly-leaky Rube Goldberg machine they have down there will dump all the oil into the Gulf with no interruption.

Even though they are capturing some of the crude now, BP is still dumping unconscionable amounts of it. In news coverage, a kind of oil fatigue has set in. People keep trying to move on, but the crude won't let them.

If I had to guess, I'd say most tropical storms will track into the western Gulf of Mexico first. The persistent trough off the east coast of the U.S. has moved the storm track pretty far south, and west.

"Four Lions" Trailer

Comedian Jeff Denham seemed to be the first to explore the comic ramifications of the "War on Terror". Now, here is this movie....

Interesting Speculations About Life On Titan

Titan is an interesting place:
Two new papers based on data from NASA's Cassini spacecraft scrutinize the complex chemical activity on the surface of Saturn's moon Titan. While non-biological chemistry offers one possible explanation, some scientists believe these chemical signatures bolster the argument for a primitive, exotic form of life or precursor to life on Titan's surface. According to one theory put forth by astrobiologists, the signatures fulfill two important conditions necessary for a hypothesized "methane-based life."

...The hydrocarbon mapping research, led by Roger Clark, a Cassini team scientist based at the U.S. Geological Survey in Denver, examines data from Cassini's visual and infrared mapping spectrometer. Scientists had expected the sun's interactions with chemicals in the atmosphere to produce acetylene that falls down to coat the Titan surface. But Cassini detected no acetylene on the surface.

In addition Cassini's spectrometer detected an absence of water ice on the Titan surface, but loads of benzene and another material, which appears to be an organic compound that scientists have not yet been able to identify. The findings lead scientists to believe that the organic compounds are shellacking over the water ice that makes up Titan's bedrock with a film of hydrocarbons at least a few millimeters to centimeters thick, but possibly much deeper in some places. The ice remains covered up even as liquid methane and ethane flow all over Titan's surface and fill up lakes and seas much as liquid water does on Earth.

"Titan's atmospheric chemistry is cranking out organic compounds that rain down on the surface so fast that even as streams of liquid methane and ethane at the surface wash the organics off, the ice gets quickly covered again," Clark said. "All that implies Titan is a dynamic place where organic chemistry is happening now."

Somebody's Got To Do It

Trapped in hot, sluggish westbound traffic on Interstate 80 just east of the Yolo Causeway, this driver pulled over Sunday afternoon to give his dog some water.

Interesting vehicle there!

Unemployment is growing in Albuquerque, the Duke City, which just means it's time for folks there to get more creative in exploring employment opportunities.
Jim, the computer guy, said he just saw this fun movie: "Sunshine Cleaning". The movie was filmed, naturally enough, in Albuquerque, NM, and explores the more comedic side of that rapidly-growing, substantive body of work I like to call Southwestern Film Noir.

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Nearly Useless Media In The Gulf

MC Hammer - Turn This Mutha Out

Kat Holder Graduation Party

Kat Holder graduates from high school! She also gave one of the valedictory speeches at Heritage Peak Charter School that mother Lisa proudly showed off on video.

As the get-together progressed, I found myself sitting with a group of, I think, mostly eight-year-old kids. We all agreed we liked the Black Eyed Peas, but the kids also suggested that the Jonas Brothers and Nickelback were worth listening to as well.

Several kids, H. in particular, took particular interest in my touch-screen i-Phone: a decided improvement on their Nintendos. They were disappointed at first that I had so few games on the i-Phone, but by taking free rein, they were soon doing what they really wanted to do: take pictures of their friends (see below), download music, and watch Miley Cyrus videos.

I did worry about the ability of eight-year-olds to tell jokes, however....

H.: What did one volcano tell the other volcano?
M.: I don't know; what did one volcano tell the other volcano?
H.: I wuv you!
M.: (?????)

H.: What happened to the peach rolling down the hill?
M.: I don't know; what happened to the peach rolling down the hill?
H.: He ran out of juice!
M.: (?????)

Maybe I was just missing something here.....

Solved The Wrong Problem, Apparently

Didn't see THAT coming!:
A Cheektowaga liver transplant recipient pleaded guilty Friday to driving drunk at seven times the legal limit when he struck a pedestrian, two parked cars and a moving vehicle on French Road in Cheektowaga in late March.

Gurninderjit Thandi had a blood alcohol reading of 0.56 percent after the hit-and-run incident about 3:15 p.m. March 20, said Kelly A. Omel, chief of the Erie County district attorney’s Vehicular Crimes Unit. Omel said that’s the highest reading she has seen in a local drunken driving case.

...Thandi, who came to court with his wife, told the judge during the plea proceedings that he is still under a doctor’s care for the liver transplant he had at a Rochester hospital in January, and that he is taking anti-depression medication and being treated by mental health experts.

Trying To Puzzle Out The News From The Gulf

It's hard to make clear sense of BP's efforts to fit a cap over the Gulf oil well, in part, because BP is spinning like mad to control the news, and mislead people, if necessary. (For example, in their trademark patronizing way, BP didn't inform many people watching what they thought was the topkill procedure on live feed that they had stopped the procedure). In part, problems in understanding occur because news reporters garble the news out of ignorance. Nevertheless, the news reports out of the LA Times seem fairly reliable.

Two days ago, CNN reported that BP was closing four valves in the cap only slowly. CNN has reported several times that the engineers are closely monitoring pressures, but that just sounds wrong to me: they don't have a hermetic seal on the riser pipe, so pressures would be a secondary concern. Instead, I think they are closely monitoring flows. They are trying to create as dry and dessicated an environment as possible - in a leaky vessel a mile below the surface of the sea, no less! - in order to minimize formation of methane clathrate hydrate ice. Talk about Sisyphean labor! There's a lot of water coming up with the oil and natural gas that must be accomodated as well. Nevertheless, since ice could gum everything up, slow-go is the game.

All of this effort is to buy time, of course, to finish the relief wells. There is no assurance they'll be able to capture enough oil to save anybody's ass, however. The cap might remain just a leaky vessel - in fact, to maintain the dessicated environment, they might have little choice but to keep it leaky. And all bets are off if hurricanes pass nearby - as they are almost bound to!