Friday, June 25, 2010

BP's In-Situ Burning

Interesting video regarding a potential future air-quality modeling effort for myself: burning the oil before it has a chance to reach shore.

Vince Gilligan Talks About Season 4 Of "Breaking Bad"

Trying not to overthink it:
Q.: I don’t expect you to tell me what you’re planning, but do you have it worked out in your mind whether Jesse definitely killed Gale at the end of the episode?

A.: Well, it’s funny. I don’t have it worked out exactly what’s going to happen next, which is the way we’ve been doing it now for three seasons.

I’d love to say I’m being a very smart, forward-thinking chess player here, and have everything planned out months or years in advance. But I truly don’t. We kind of wing it. I don’t think it’s suddenly going to get superlight and airy. Now that we’ve come this far, there’s really no turning back. Life is definitely going to change for Jesse there.

... Q.: When do you have to start writing Season 4 of your show?

A.: This is a good question and I should be doing it right now, but honestly, until I have to show up at the office, I think of anything else but. I’m hoping we’re going to get back in the writers’ room in the first or second week of July. What I should be doing is spending maybe one hour a day now thinking – having some good stuff to come in and tell the writers when we start up in a month or two. I was the same back in high school – do everything at the last minute. It’ll probably work out that way this time

Reflections On A Career

Darci Kistler retires:
Ms. Kistler has maintained for years that dancing Balanchine ballets makes one a Balanchine dancer. Looking back, she seems to acknowledge what she had: “The real reality is there is nothing in the world like being talked to and being graced by his presence, by his words, by his thoughts.”

There is a quotation, frequently attributed to Ms. Kistler, in which Balanchine instructed her not to think but just to dance. “He knew people better than anybody,” Ms. Kistler said. “I don’t think he would tell another dancer to ‘just dance.’ But that’s what he said to me. He probably thought that I was an overthinker. Maybe he didn’t want me to get in my own way.”

This Is So Totally How I Will Perish

It's hard to avoid even now, even though I'm not yet elderly:
Reports indicated Richard Lowrie was in the drive-through line at a McDonalds restaurant along Pearl Road when he apparently dropped either his glasses or some change outside of his vehicle.

Upon attempting to pick them up, however, Lowrie accidentally pressed down on the accelerator pedal. Lowrie was left hanging by his car as it careened forward, eventually smashing into a wall.

A construction worker on a Bobcat apparently witnessed the horrific incident, which trapped Lowrie on impact. The worker, Colin Hyle, went on to pull the vehicle away from the wall as responding police officers held down the brake. “What else would you do for that poor man, so I got him unstuck,” Hyle said.

I Just Don't 'Get' Some Things - Maybe Just As Well

From Fail Blog.

Media Whore Joe Arpaiao Talks About The Difficulties Of Being A Media Whore

Via Phoenix New Times, Sheriff Joe Arpaiao's new Livestream.

Which reminds me, Hugo Chavez has used this sort of approach very effectively in Venezuela - although Chavez' broadcasts are usually ten hours long, rather than five minutes long. Then again, this is Sheriff Joe's first broadcast, so the sky's the limit, as they say.

Kaskade - One vs. Fire In Your New Shoes @ The Mezzanine (Dynasty Tour 5-22-10)

"Fire In Your New Shoes" lyrics:
Send "Fire In Your New Shoes" Ringtone to your Cell
I like that outfit, the zipper's pinchin'
But if you want it any tighter, we could cinch it
Dress up leather, wear every color
I'm going Rococo with sequins in the summer

So come
Twirl your dresses around
Lift your cotton socks on
And turn your cameras on now for the fun

While I light a fire in your new shoes
If you should smile, look so surprised
While I light a fire in your new shoes
Look out that your soles don't burn to the floor

I light the fire
I light the fire

Buttons are busted, we're decorated
We make an ornament with gold and silver plating
So what's the latest, we raise a fever
We're just all red inside, that's all to see here

Yeah, we're red inside, we're all red inside
And the leg bone's connected to the one in the thigh
We are red inside, we're all red inside
And the leg bone's connected to the one in the thigh

So come oh, oh, oh
Twirl your dresses around uh, uh, uh
Lift your cotton socks, sock, sock, sock, sock
Turn your cameras oh, oh, oh, oh, oh

While I light a fire in your new shoes
If you should smile, look so surprised
While I light a fire in your new shoes
Look out that your soles don't burn to the floor

While I light a fire in your new shoes
If you should smile, look so surprised
While I light a fire in your new shoes
Look out that your soles don't burn to the floor

While I light a fire
I light a fire

Plus, another fine video: Kaskade's "Angel On My Shoulder", from Coachella 2010.

Thursday, June 24, 2010


I know you are, so what am I?:
The Raytown farmer who posted a sign on a semi-truck trailer accusing Democrats of being the “Party of Parasites” received more than $1 million in federal crop subsidies since 1995.

But David Jungerman says the payouts don’t contradict the sign he put up in a corn field in Bates County along U.S. 71 Highway.

“That’s just my money coming back to me,” Jungerman, 72, said Monday. “I pay a lot in taxes. I’m not a parasite.”

Just Don't Know What To Think About The Australian Leadership Change

But reading this, it sounds like a bad TV miniseries gone amok. Maybe that's just how politics is!:
LAST week, Parliamentary Secretary for Disabilities Bill Shorten went to see Julia Gillard and told her to challenge Kevin Rudd.

...Shorten, the ambitious former union boss from the Victorian Right, told the loyal deputy prime minister he was not "yet" talking on behalf of his entire faction.

But he assured Gillard he was confident that if she made a strong play for the leadership, he could deliver her the numbers to win.

The secret conversation came after weeks of meetings, organised by Victorian senator David Feeney and NSW senator Steve Hutchins, at which Labor MPs savaged Rudd's leadership.

...Their hatred for him was becoming so strong many were saying they wanted to destroy his leadership immediately.

...So Gillard has known for a week that the Right factions were backing her.

Her allies say she declined Shorten's offer, arguing it was not the right time to strike. But the seed Shorten had planted grew. As MPs went home for the weekend, many were anxiously anticipating Newspoll. They knew that the results would give them ammunition to go for Rudd's throat.

...Despite Rudd's confident public face, he was acutely aware that MPs were coming after him.

...It was reports that Mr Rudd had sent Jordan to canvass backbenchers on his leadership - in the process questioning Gillard's loyalty - that was the last straw.

One source said the anger was palpable after former minister Bob Debus received a text message from Jordan during the caucus meeting on Tuesday.

The text essentially said "thanks for speaking and defending Kevin". The impersonal and bizarre message was seen as a nervous Rudd shoring up his numbers against Gillard - while she was still maintaining her loyalty.

Gillard was angered by the report and by news that Debus had been text messaged during caucus. She regarded Rudd questioning of her loyalty as treacherous. It entrenched her view that Rudd was out of control.

...Her numbers were swelling. Frontbenchers were all falling her way. They told her to either fix the crisis in government and tell Rudd to fundamentally change, or take over - immediately.

She made a commitment to see Rudd. She went to Defence Minister John Faulkner - the party's elder statesman and peace broker - to complain. She told him it was unacceptable - that Rudd was out of control and she was furious.

...Before question time on Wednesday, Rudd walked into Gillard's office to accuse her of undermining his leadership. She told him she was furious.

They agreed to meet after question time. Gillard was intense during question time. In hindsight it was obvious that something was weighing heavily on her.

...One factional powerbroker says that after that "It was like watching a bushfire; suppressed rage which sped up and got momentum".

Gillard and Faulkner then walked into Rudd's office where they endured a lengthy meeting. He wanted them to back off, Gillard became even more resolved to take him on.

...At yesterday's caucus meeting Rudd stood up and said he believed Gillard and he had worked out a compromise in their first meeting last night. "I thought we were capable of working our way through but when she returned she called it on."

He was implying that the factional bosses had pushed it - and killed a potential compromise.

He also effectively blamed Gillard and Wayne Swan for the decision to shelve the emissions trading scheme, a key policy reversal which triggered his decline in the polls. He blamed the troubled resources super-profits tax on Swan.

But those close to Gillard said she never undertook to work with him. After Gillard emerged from the meeting with Rudd - and the challenge was on, Anthony Albanese, who was once the man who counted numbers for Kim Beazley, offered to count numbers for Rudd.

...Late Wednesday night he went and delivered Rudd the devastating news that his leadership was over, that his numbers had collapsed.

...Rudd shocked many yesterday when he stood aside and didn't defend his leadership.

He gave a sombre speech, which was both "statesmanlike" but also dug the knife into Gillard and Swan - essentially blaming them for the RSPT and the abandonment of an ETS.

He stopped two or three times to fight back tears.

At the end of his speech, he was approached by MPs and frontbenchers who shook his hand and thanked him for his work.

Thinking More About Oily Rain

It's easy to pooh-pooh the idea of oily rain. Indeed these folks have several rubbish ideas why oily rain can't exist, or is unlikely:
Because oil generally doesn't evaporate, it shouldn't be possible, under normal circumstances, for it to rain down from the skies. But Charlie Paxton of the National Weather Service tells WTSP in Tampa that "a water spout could pick up some oil and carry it a short distance."

Another possibility is that the dispersant BP has been using to thin the oil, Corexit, may have made some of it light enough to be absorbed in the atmosphere.

This skeptical article at Fast Company declares it "not likely" that it's raining oil, but it quotes the EU Times as stating that "when combined with the heating Gulf of Mexico waters, [Corexit's] molecules will be able to 'phase transition' from their present liquid to a gaseous state allowing them to be absorbed into clouds and allowing their release as toxic rain upon all of Eastern North America."

And the article also points to a report (PDF) from the newly-renamed federal Minerals Management Service which states that oil, if it's light enough, has been known to evaporate. "So it might be possible that oil is mixing with rain," Fast Company's Ariel Schwartz concedes.

"Worst case scenario? It's petroleum mixed with Corexit, the cancer-causing dispersant BP's spraying on its oil slick," writes ben Wojdyla at Jalopnik. "Best case scenario? Dirty roads."
Well, I'm not persuaded....

One thing we do know about oil is that it's hydrocarbons include lighter-molecular-weight compounds that evaporate readily. And those big oil slicks are out there in the Gulf of Mexico, waiting and baking in the sun.

So what happens to those evaporated compounds?

In the normal course of events, lots of aerosol particles will nucleate from the vapors as a result of oxidation, and photochemical reactions, due to exposure to sunlight.

Nevertheless, these particles should still be hydrophobic for the most part, shouldn't they? Only if they are pure compounds, which they are unlikely to be in a semitropical marine environment. Lots of sea salt, and other soluble salts, could combine with the products of hydrocarbon oxidation to form mixed aerosols. A typical mixed aerosol particle could be partly hydrophobic and partly hydrophilic.

Could these mixed aerosol particles function as condensation nuclei? Maybe - particularly if strong updrafts in powerful thunderstorms deplete the population of nuclei best suited for condensation nuclei and start drawing upon this mixed population. Even though oil products will resist incorporation into rain, sometimes mightily, it's not an absolute resistance. Whether through nucleation scavenging or precipitation scavenging, routes should exist to bring even the most hydrophobic compounds into rain! And you don't need much oil, or oil byproduct, to place a sheen on water!

Let's get those relief wells dug! ASAP!

Worried, Corrupt Judges Say "Keep Drilling!"

Moratorium is blocked:
The Justice Department says in court papers that Interior Secretary Ken Salazar has instructed all employees to not take any action to enforce the moratorium. It also says the department is sending letters to operators who received notices of suspension that those notices have no legal effect at this time.
All these judges who own oil stocks! Corrupt!

(Which reminds me - some of the mutual funds I own as part of of my company's 401K are invested in oil.... Corrupt!)

What was I saying? Yes! Now, the question of deep-sea oil drilling falls into the regulatory regime, where all kinds of things can happen to it.

Mobilize the environmentalist lawyers!

[Update: According to conservative sources, the particular judge in question has no conflict-of-interest and is now receiving death threats. Interesting. Nevertheless, if even liberal bloggers like myself have a conflict-of-interest, I think it's highly-likely almost everyone involved has a conflict-of-interest. Like they say, money talks! And regarding death threats, no surprise there! Ruining an entire way of life for hundreds of thousands of people, and making sure it stays ruined forever, is a pretty good way to get the death threats coming!]

Inflatable Sumo Suits And Close Quarters Cause Friction

(Via dirtyscarab) This story from Ireland is just a bit complicated:
Woman in sumo wrestler suit assaulted her ex-girlfriend in gay pub after she waved at man dressed as a Snickers bar

...A court heard she lashed out at victim Adrienne Martin in a row that started over a novelty sumo wrestler's suit that Talbot was wearing. The row developed as the victim tried to wave at a man dressed as a Snickers bar, the court heard.

...Convicting her and fining her €400, Judge Catherine Murphy said she hoped the accused and the "loosely linked group of friends" who had become involved in the court case could put it behind them.

Talbot, of Greenfort Close, Clondalkin, had pleaded not guilty to common assault on Ms Martin at the George on George's Street on Halloween night, 2008.

...She had been in an on-off relationship with Talbot for three years which had ended in March 2007. During the evening Talbot, who was wearing an inflatable sumo suit, bumped into her. When she turned around, the accused said to her: "Keep smiling, c**t."

Later, a man dressed as a Snickers bar began waving at her and when she went to wave back, Talbot pushed her arm from behind. When she asked what the problem was, Talbot said: "Your arm's in my way."

When she again asked what her problem was, Talbot "flipped" and started screaming abuse at her.

Ms Martin's friend Suzanne Bowes got in between them. Talbot was saying something about Ms Martin's dead sister that she could not hear over the music so she turned her head to listen.

"The next thing, I got a blow to the left side of my head beside the temple," Ms Martin said. "My knees went from under me and I went down. She walked away, laughing and sneering at me. I had a massive lump on the side of my head."

Ms Martin said she saw a Smirnoff Ice bottle fly from the defendant's sleeve. The State solicitor said the prosecution had no evidence that a bottle was used in the assault other than Ms Martin's word.

The accused was escorted out and had to be asked to partially deflate her costume so she could get out the door.

Talbot's barrister Diarmuid Collins argued that it would have been impossible for the bottle to have been in her costume and fallen out as described because the suit worked on an airtight seal.

...The accused, who has worked as a sports instructor for disadvantaged youths and is now training to be a tattoo artist, claimed Ms Martin had been telling lies about her on social networking websites.

"I had a big row with her but I didn't touch her," said Talbot.

Surf's Up

Image from Zak McFlimby at B3ta.

Every Action Against Earth Has A Consequence

A Zuni opinion regarding the Flagstaff Fires, BP Oil Spill, etc., etc.:
You really don't have to go back that far in time to recount many other human-caused incidences that have wreaked havoc upon the earth as well as humankind all over the world. The Rodeo-Chediski Fire in Arizona, the Cerro Grande Fire in New Mexico, Chernobyl, Three Mile Island, the Exxon Valdez ... the list goes on ... and on ... and on.

Long ago, according to legend, my people - the A:shiwi (Zuni people) - took one of our most precious natural resources (salt) for granted, and nearly lost an important part of their culture.

Many centuries ago, Salt Mother lived near the Zuni villages, providing salt to our ancestors. After a time, our ancestors started abusing and disrespecting Salt Mother. They would waste the salt and not leave proper offerings. Because of this, Salt Mother became dismayed and left our homelands to her present location.

When it was discovered that Salt Mother was missing, our ancestors searched far and wide and eventually found her. They begged her to return, but she refused, saying that if there was ever another time we showed disrespect to her, she would leave forever and never return. To this day, the A:shiwi follow the proper rituals when harvesting salt from the sacred salt lake. It is out of respect for the earth and for Salt Mother that we continue to follow this practice.

The great Chief Seattle once stated, "The earth does not belong to man, man belongs to the earth. All things are connected like the blood that unites us all. Man did not weave the web of life, he is merely a strand in it. Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself."

In short, what this basically means is that as we slowly destroy the earth and plunder all of its natural resources, we are slowly destroying ourselves in the process. Will humankind ever come to realize that every action has a consequence? That remains to be seen, that is, if we survive long enough.

What's New In Utah?

Just the usual:
Two car chases, a totaled police cruiser and an extended foot pursuit of a naked woman through sagebrush finally ended with a Taser being used to subdue her.

...“A man was outside his vehicle on [State Road] 111 putting up home business signs when this woman pulled up next to him, got out of her vehicle, naked, and stole his car and drove off,” said West Valley City police Capt. Tom McLachlan.

...The man called 911, hopped behind the wheel of the woman’s abandoned car and gave chase, northbound on State Road 111 and into West Valley City. She left the highway and veered onto a dirt road leading into a field owned by Alliant Technologies, got stuck and then fled on foot into the brush.

West Valley police, assisted by Alliant security, scoured the rugged sagebrush and grasslands for their suspect, described as 5-foot-5, 120 to 130 pounds, thin and with reddish-brown hair.

“Of course, there was no clothing description available,” McLachlan said.

A West Valley officer soon spotted the woman hiding behind a bush, and as he approached, a second officer arrived in his squad car. She refused to surrender, and as the officers moved in she broke away — and hopped behind the wheel of the cruiser, speeding away in a cloud of dust and dragging the officers a short distance before they let go.

Neither officer was seriously hurt and the chase resumed, with the woman driving the police car through a fence gate and then hitting a dirt berm when she missed a curve. “She was airborne about 50 feet before crashing into another berm,” McLachlan said.

The woman, slightly bloodied, fled the ruined squad car and streaked into the weeds again, chased on foot by the two officers.

When she tried to double back toward the highway, at one point wriggling through a barbed wire fence, other officers were waiting for her.

“She was not obeying commands to stop, cease and desist, anything,” McLachlan said, adding an officer finally stunned her with his Taser when the woman appeared to be making another break.

The 31-year-old woman was handcuffed and, after a brief struggle with responding paramedics, taken to Pioneer Valley Hospital for a mental health evaluation. Doctors found no indication she was under the influence of drugs or alcohol, McLachlan said.

...McLachlan said a potentially dangerous aspect of the case fortunately never developed: the owner of the first car the woman stole was a concealed weapons permit holder. His handgun was found still in his vehicle by police.

Flagstaff Fire Perimeters

I was trying to work out in my mind the locations of several of these Flagstaff-area fires with respect to Flagstaff, and with respect to where I spent the winter of 1985/86 (U.S.F.S. Ft. Valley Experimental Station). These perimeters are dated a bit (Eagle Rock - 6/20; Schultz - 6/23) and so the facts on the ground might be a little different than portrayed here.

That Schultz fire perimeter on the eastern slopes of the San Francisco Peaks is distressingly large. I just bet a lot of that area has thin soils too. If I recall, Sunset Crater NE of Flagstaff is evidence of fairly-recent volcanism, from which new soils are still being formed. Exposed to the sun's drying mercies on those steep, eastern slopes, the forest there is likely to recover only slowly. Together with that big, pre-existing fire burn on Mt. Eldon just north of Flagstaff, the Schultz fire burn presents evidence that firebug people are slowly taking a significant toll on the forest in the city's vicinity. Over the decades, the Ponderosa Pine forest of Northern Arizona is slowly being broken up and consigned to history's dust bin, particularly near highways, where people interact with the forest. It's hard to keep a large forest intact when so many people are there.

I remember reading an Israeli meteorology article wherein the author made the claim that, because of its unique combination of both plentiful sunshine and plentiful rain, Jerusalem had the best climate on Earth. Interestingly, in his opinion, Flagstaff had the world's second-best climate. I wonder if Jerusalem was once like Flagstaff, until people dramatically transformed the area. Now, people are slowly laying waste to Flagstaff's natural inheritance, perhaps faster than Nature can assemble it in the arid Arizona climate. Maybe in 3,000 years, Flagstaff will look something like Jerusalem does today.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Worrisome Storm Activity On Increase In Gulf In About A Week

People are beginning to look at this forecast storm activity. It looks fairly disorganized, but BP's got such a Rube Goldberg system sucking up oil in the Gulf (which isn't even working today) that any minor annoyance - lightning, rain, wind - can cause major headaches.

Interesting....Rumors of oily rain in Louisiana. Seems far-fetched, because oil and its derivatives are so hydrophobic, but maybe the oil byproducts enter at the nucleation stage, not later. Just don't know!

People are seeing things with this disaster that they never anticipated seeing before, and never hope to see again. Something to remember 2010 by!

Centrifugal Force

Acid Rain Problems Shift From Sulfuric To Nitric Acid

It's all that driving we like to do, combined with intensifying agribusiness operations. Acid rain problems are much more severe in the East, however, because they don't have buffering calcium carbonate in the soil, like we do in the West. Western nitrogen problems show up in other ways, however, like fish declines in the Sacramento Delta and spreading nitrates in groundwater near Lake Tahoe, and so we will have to address these matters too:
Sulfur emissions from power plants were one of the primary motivations for the U.S.'s Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990, which set reduction targets for both sulfur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxides (NOx). However, whereas sulfur dioxide emissions decreased almost 70 percent from 1990 to 2008, emissions of one NOx—nitrogen dioxide (NO2)—went down only 35 percent for that same period, and amendment targets have yet to be made, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

...Nitric acid rain is derived primarily from power plant, car and truck emissions as well as from gases released by fertilizer use. ... Agri-ammonia vapors also derive from concentrated animal feeding operations in the U.S. South. The gas rises into the air and is deposited dry or in rainfall where in the ground bacteria breaks it into nitrogen and nitric acid, which can kill fish and plants. "Agriculture is increasingly functioning as an intensively managed industrial operation, and that is creating serious water, soil, and air problems," says Viney Aneja, a professor at North Carolina State University in Raleigh. Aneja says that state's concentrated animal feeding operations may also emit particulate matter from swine and chicken manure into the atmosphere, which can carry diseases.

NOx escapes from power plants as a by-product of coal combustion, whereas vehicular engines run at high enough pressures and temperatures to combine nitrogen and oxygen in the air. "Though catalytic converters have decreased the amount of pollution per vehicle, there are more vehicles on the road and more miles driven," Schlesinger says. Emissions from fertilizers are the chief source of atmospheric nitric oxide, but motor vehicles have now overtaken coal power plants as the secondary most critical source of this problem.

...In the U.S. there are neither comprehensive laws nor adequate monitoring devices for regulating atmospheric nitrogen emissions from livestock and farms. Europeans passed the Gothenburg Protocol to Abate Acidification, Eutrophication and Ground-Level Ozone in 1999, a pact signed by 49 countries, but the U.S. has dragged its feet. Schlesinger thinks that national arguments over climate change have allowed the U.S. to ignore the nitrogen problem, which he predicts will be the next big environmental issue. "It's another example of humans upsetting global biogeochemical cycles with unintended consequences," he says. Since Gothenburg, Europe has decreased its nitrogen emissions by a third, whereas U.S. emissions remain flat. And the U.S. has increased its ammonia emissions, an atmospheric component of the nitrogen problem, by 27 percent from 1970 to 2005, according to a 2009 paper in Environmental Science & Technology.

Bev's Review Of "Crazy For You"

Bev saw opening night, the show with the boisterous, theater-oriented audience:
Boyette is a gem, and he brings great energy and sparkle to the role. In one scene, at a bar in Deadrock, you'd swear he was channeling Mickey Rooney, so perfect are his body movements.

Vasser is a powerhouse, and clearly the matriarch of the Child family.

Once in Deadrock, Bobby immediately falls in love with Polly Baker (Danielle Hansen), whose father owns the theater that is scheduled for foreclosure. Hansen is very sweet, although she lacks the lungs to give the role a lot of oomph. Still, she and Boyette play well off of each other.

The villain of the piece is Lank Hawkins (Nick Thompson), who owns the saloon adjacent to the theater and has his eye on expanding. He's also sweet on Polly, and sees Bobby as a threat to both plans.

Nine 'Follies girls' are led by Tess (Wendy Young), on whom Zangler has his eye; they're joined by 10 cowboys/miners. Of these, Moose (Kyle Hadley) is a genuine crowd pleaser, especially when he takes to the bass with 'Slap that Bass.'

Director Ron Cisneros also handles the outstanding choreography, which boasts several lively tap dance numbers. The chorus girls, resplendent in costumes designed by Denise Miles, glitter up the stage beautifully.

That said, this isn't a perfect production. While the 19-piece orchestra is nice, the musicians aren't always on pitch. A trio of cowboys struggled with their own pitch, especially in 'Bidin' My Time,' and Friday's opening night performance suffered from a few technical glitches.

GOP Rules A Fawning Mainstream Media

What's with all the bowing and scraping lately? As John Cole asks regarding South Carolina's Nikki Haley:
She was barely the most popular Republican candidate for Governor, having had to win a run-off to even become the nominee. She’s spent less time as a Governor than Sarah Palin, because… she has not even won the race yet.
But still, the Washington Post's Chris Cilizza writes:
South Carolina state Rep. Nikki Haley cruised to the Republican nomination for governor tonight, a victory that makes her not just the frontrunner for the office this fall but a likely national GOP star.
And there's more. Last weekend's Haley Barbour profile in the New York Times was just embarrassing:
As he nears the end of his eight-year stint as governor, Mr. Barbour’s performance could help shift his political image from that of an insider party boss to an out-front crisis manager — and possible presidential candidate in 2012.

Mr. Barbour, 62, is proof that if you hang around long enough, even a good old boy lobbyist and political party animal can come back into fashion — or at least be recast by circumstance.
Mr. Barbour seems to conceive all political challenges as being inside matters. External challenges, like hurricanes and oil spills, are simply beyond his ken - just like the mayor from "Jaws", whose boosterism just provided evidence of his incapacity.

And now that General Petraeus is now in charge of Afghanistan matters, you can count on his amen chorus to reappear instantly.

I know what it is! It must be an election season, and the MSM knows that it must curry favor!

The Hidden Battle - McChrystal vs. Obama

Peter Beinart is definitely not my favorite person, but his article today is sensible. There is a huge fight underway regarding Afghanistan policy, and McChrystal just can't be allowed to have his way (and with today's resignation, he won't be):
What matters isn’t what McChrystal said about Obama; it’s what he believes about Afghanistan. That’s why he should lose his job.

For close to a year now, it’s been painfully clear that McChrystal, with the backing of David Petraeus and the rest of the top military brass, wants America to make an unlimited commitment to the Afghan war. Counterinsurgency, they believe, works; all it requires is an unlimited amount of money and time. As Jonathan Alter details in his book, The Promise, McChrystal and company spent last summer waging a media and bureaucratic campaign aimed at forcing Obama to make that unlimited commitment. Obama resisted, insisting on a timeline for beginning America’s withdrawal.

...Obama’s problem isn’t that McChrystal is talking smack about him. His problem is that McChrystal isn’t pursuing his foreign policy. McChrystal wants to “win” the war in Afghanistan (whatever that means) no matter what it takes. Obama believes that doing whatever it takes will cost the U.S. so much money, and so distract the administration from other concerns, that it will cripple his efforts to stabilize America’s finances and rebuild American economic power. That’s the struggle that Hastings exposes: between a single-minded general who will stop at nothing to fulfill his mission and a president who believes that even if that mission saves Afghanistan, it could bankrupt the United States. It’s a struggle about whether America is going to adjust to the new limits on its power or pretend that they don’t exist.

That’s the real relevance of the Harry Truman-Douglas MacArthur analogy. Truman didn’t just fire MacArthur because the general treated him with disrespect. He fired him because MacArthur wanted to do whatever it took to liberate the Korean peninsula, including bombing mainland China, whereas Truman came to realize that Korea must be a limited war, fought merely to preserve South Korean independence. In insisting that America’s Cold War strategy be the containment of communism, not the rollback of communism, Truman kept the pursuit of military victory from destroying American power.

Now Obama must do the same. Last summer, he tried to split the difference—surging in Afghanistan while simultaneously pledging to retreat on the theory that within eighteen months the U.S. could so weaken the Taliban that they would sue for peace. Six months in, that strategy looks increasingly absurd. As its most honest proponents concede, counterinsurgency is a long, messy business, especially when the president whose country you’re trying to save is indifferent, if not hostile, to the effort. In all likelihood, when the deadline for troop withdrawal arrives a year from now, Obama will be forced to choose between something that looks like an unlimited commitment and something that looks like defeat. He’ll be forced to make the choice that he avoided last year.

Agnes "Release Me" Remix

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

They'll Stop At Nothing At The Border

Oh, the humanity!:
Officers found the tractor-trailer was loaded with papier-mache items, including 108 piƱatas in the likeness of Disney characters on their way to Thornton, Colo.

Officers seized the shipment for violation of intellectual property rights.

Assistant port Director Eli Villareal says the pinatas may seem innocent, but shipments of illegal merchandise on a national scale can undermine the U.S. economy and ``is a vital element in national security.''

Charges Dropped - For Now

Charges are dropped against Ron Bell.

Like Bell says:
"Wow. I am the first person who was arrested for DUI after blowing a 0.00."
Nevertheless, there are reasons to worry:
The district attorney's office said it plans to refile charges when toxicology results become available.

Bramlett Photography Link To "Crazy For You" Pictures

Left: Joseph Boyette as Bobby Child.

Here is the link to lots of really nice "Crazy For You" pictures!

I just had to download a few of Bramlett's pictures for myself!

Arrival of the Fodors in Deadrock, NV. Danielle Hansen as Polly Baker (left), and Lee Ann D'Amato and Marc Valdez as Patricia and Eugene Fodor.

"Stiff Upper Lip", featuring Joseph Boyette as Bobby Child, Marc Valdez and Lee Ann D'Amato as Eugene and Patricia Fodor, and Danielle Hansen as Polly Baker.

"Stiff Upper Lip", featuring Joseph Boyette as Bobby Child and Danielle Hansen as Polly Baker (above), and Marc Valdez and Lee Ann D'Amato as Eugene and Patricia Fodor (below).

Marc Valdez and Lee Ann D'Amato as Eugene and Patricia Fodor (seated), with Kyle Hadley, Wayne Raymond, and Steve Mo as Frenchified Deadrock waiters.

Lee Ann D'Amato and Marc Valdez as Patricia and Eugene Fodor.

More On Flagstaff Fires

I previously-blogged about the peculiar problems of the forests of northern Arizona that make them unusually vulnerable to fire. I learned about these problems when I spent the winter of 1985/86 at the U.S. Forest Service's Fort Valley Experimental Station, located a few miles NW of Flagstaff, AZ, and talked to the scientists there, principally Dr. Richard Tinus, who specialized in these matters. In short:
The ponderosa pine forests of the Mogollon Rim and northern Arizona suffer from a strange constitutional defect. Bare soil (resulting from extensive 19th-Century cattle grazing), combined with perfect moisture and temperature conditions in the spring of 1919, meant that every seed dispersed from every dropping pine cone that bountiful year managed to sprout and grow into a tree. But each tree faced fierce competition from all the neighboring seedlings. The results are clusters of tiny, 90-year-old spindly trees growing everywhere in the forests that serve as perfect kindling for fires. The area cries out for these clusters to be thinned, but it's back-breaking work that will never, ever be done. Thus, the entire region is primed for severe fires.

A Fool And His Gavel

Deep-water drilling is NOT safe!:
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A U.S. judge on Tuesday ruled against the Obama administration's six-month moratorium on deepwater drilling in the wake of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, a blow to the White House which had hoped the ban would provide time to ensure other wells are operating safely.

A lawsuit was filed by Louisiana-based Hornbeck Offshore Services LLC and was joined by more than a dozen companies involved in offshore drilling operations to reverse the drilling ban imposed by the U.S. Department of Interior.

A federal judge in Louisiana granted the drillers' request for a preliminary restraining order that would prevent the ban from taking effect.

Catastrophism And The BP Well Disaster

My sister Michelle has been watching videos regarding the out-of-control BP oil well that lean towards the extremely-pessimistic:

Marky Marc,
Check this out and tell me what you think.

Here is another one.....

The first video is an excerpt from George Noory's Coast-to-Coast AM radio program. Even though George's program tends to be speculative - too speculative - much of what they discuss here is reasonably accurate. The second video is more speculative, however, with too many "what ifs" linked together to yield a reliable story.

Nevertheless, what do I think?

Well, nothing can be ruled out at this time - and that's scary!

I haven’t heard anything reliable about changes in the sea floor in the vicinity of BP’s Macondo well, so I’m working on the assumption that they haven’t occurred yet (although they eventually will occur as the oil gets withdrawn). Right now, estimates are that it will take two or three years to completely vent the oil at current withdrawal rates. I’m also not intensely worried about their discussion of extreme pressures. Pressures increase as you go down, but as the oil comes up, pressure decreases automatically, so no particular big deal about the pressure, just by itself.

Nevertheless, there is a chance of extreme events regarding this disaster, far larger than we’ve seen, or that have been discussed in the mainstream media. Some of the things they mentioned in the first video – cavitation within the pipe, degradation of well casings, cement failures – have already happened, on a small scale, as a result of the rig collapse and uncontrolled venting of oil. The big question on everyone’s mind is ‘how bad is the damage?’ One reason they abandoned the “top kill” procedure, for example, apart from the fact that it wasn’t working, was that it was subjecting the well to higher pressures than it was designed for, which might aggravate the damage. If the well casing becomes damaged or useless, then a far-larger hole might form, a crater down into the oil body itself, which will be far less-controllable than it is now.

People have suggested using nuclear weapons to seal the oil well in the Gulf of Mexico, but there are serious drawbacks to the use of nuclear weaponry for this purpose. My fear is that it would shatter the rock in the vicinity of the pipe, leading to a blowout a zillion times larger than what they have now.

I learned several things at Kirtland AFB in Albuquerque when I worked there as a college student that make me worry (I worked in a section that evaluated the effects of previous U.S. nuclear blasts on local geology, with a view towards hardening MX missile launch points).

When the U.S. detonated the Bikini and Eniwetok thermonuclear blasts on top of coral atolls in the early 1950s, the blasts didn’t vaporize the rock, or fling it away, so much as they slammed the rock straight down, hundreds of feet, creating big craters. Granted, coral rock is porous, and so more-crushable than the stuff likely under the Gulf of Mexico, but still, one shouldn’t underestimate the power of nukes in punching rock around. That Gulf of Mexico seabed rock seals the oil reservoir right now, and we shouldn't want to break that seal in a careless manner.

When natural gas wells have been sealed previously through the use of nuclear weapons (by the Soviets) it was the nuclear heat that melted the rock that created the seal. This oil well is under water, however, and water is very good at absorbing nuclear radiation and converting it into concussive mechanical power. As a consequence, there is less rock-melting heat available than you might expect. So, in a waterlogged environment like under the Gulf of Mexico, a nuclear weapon would create lots of well-case-shattering breakage, and maybe not enough well-sealing heat. The ultimate result might be a oil leak far worse than we have now. An unstoppable oil flood, or oil volcano.

Another vastly complicating factor they have down there in the seabed is methane clathrate hydrate ice. It’s a form of water and methane ice (clathrate refers to the cagelike structure of the water ice surrounding the methane molecules) that forms under the low temperatures and high pressures that you see in deep sea drilling. The ice does not appear in shallow water drilling, however, which is why the BP engineers (and all oil-drilling engineers) are so inexperienced with it. This ice clogged up their first top-hat methods of trying to funnel the oil. Indeed, the pictures you see of the venting well are partly oil, but partly methane clathrate hydrate ice slush. Think of it as an out-of-control, slimy, oily blended margarita fountain.

Anyway, this ice is flammable (!), and potentially-explosive if the pressure is suddenly reduced. The seabed is packed with this ice, to some depth.

Methane clathrate hydrate ice is a suspect in ancient tsunamis, and maybe modern ones too. If underwater landslides occur as a result of earthquakes, the landslides can suddenly reduce the pressure in the seabed, leading to gas eruptions, enormous bubbles, even bigger landslides, and big tsunamis.

My guess at the moment is that the worst-case (explosions, tsunamis, endless oil) won’t occur, mostly because the well is too small (the hole is smaller than the typical computer screen). But just like a volcanic caldera (e.g., the Jemez, or Yellowstone), if you can create a runaway condition, where exploding ice or well-case degradation contributes to hole growth, you could create an epic catastrophe – a volcano of oil, packed with tsunamis and spectacular explosions. It might mean the end of most life in the world’s oceans. So, it’s important not to make the hole in the ocean floor bigger, even with the best of intentions.

I hope these relief wells get completed soon. August is just too far away!

Regarding the second video, I’m not a believer in Thomas Gold’s idea of abiotic oil (oil present for reasons other than a biological origin) and so this video has less persuasive power than the first one. I don’t think the oil can lead to stronger hurricanes, for example. Indeed, one of the most fascinating things regarding this oil spill is that we might finally get a test of the idea that oil slicks can quell hurricanes and reduce their power (never tried before because no one before now would ever have been so stupid as to coat the entire Gulf of Mexico with oil to give the theory a proper test).

Nevertheless, as previously mentioned, even if it’s not the end of the Earth, it can still get pretty damned bad. Good luck to BP’s relief-well efforts!

Speaking of which, I asked my bosses’ permission to come to NM in late July, but they are hesitating, because they aren’t sure whether they might need my services that week modeling the air pollution generated by burning oil slicks in the Gulf of Mexico, or at least assessing the software.

BP taketh away, and BP giveth!

Those Optimistic Scientists Again

As the scientist who helped eradicate smallpox he certainly know a thing or two about extinction.

And now Professor Frank Fenner, emeritus professor of microbiology at the Australian National University, has predicted that the human race will be extinct within the next 100 years.

He has claimed that the human race will be unable to survive a population explosion and 'unbridled consumption.’

Fenner told The Australian newspaper that 'homo sapiens will become extinct, perhaps within 100 years.'

'A lot of other animals will, too,' he added.

'It's an irreversible situation. I think it's too late. I try not to express that because people are trying to do something, but they keep putting it off.'

Since humans entered an unofficial scientific period known as the Anthropocene - the time since industrialisation - we have had an effect on the planet that rivals any ice age or comet impact, he said.

Fenner, 95, has won awards for his work in helping eradicate the variola virus that causes smallpox and has written or co-written 22 books.

...Last year official UN figures estimated that the world’s population is currently 6.8 billion. It is predicted to exceed seven billion by the end of 2011.

Fenner blames the onset of climate change for the human race’s imminent demise.
He said: 'We'll undergo the same fate as the people on Easter Island.

'Climate change is just at the very beginning. But we're seeing remarkable changes in the weather already.'

...Retired professor Stephen Boyden, a colleague of Professor Fenner, said that while there was deep pessimism among some ecologists, others had a more optimistic view.

'Frank may well be right, but some of us still harbour the hope that there will come about an awareness of the situation and, as a result the revolutionary changes necessary to achieve ecological sustainability.'

...In 2006 another esteemed academic, Professor James Lovelock, warned that the world's population may sink as low as 500 million over the next century due to global warming.

He claimed that any attempts to tackle climate change will not be able to solve the problem, merely buy us time.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Ron Bell Accused Of DWI

Meanwhile, Albuquerqueans are surprised to learn that Ron Bell, the attorney whose TV ads have defined crap Albuquerque commercial TV since, oh, maybe the Seventies, and who flogs his services for DWIs in particular, is having DWI issues of his own:
An Albuquerque attorney known for suing DWI suspects has been arrested on suspicion of DWI.

Personal injury attorney Ron Bell is famous for his slogan: "I sue drunk drivers." But now he's accused of driving while intoxicated, according to Bernalillo County Sheriff's reports.

Bell was driving northbound on Tramway Boulevard just before 8 p.m. Saturday night when he was pulled over by deputies. He was about 1 mile away from his house.

Bell is suspected of being intoxicated because he failed to maintain lanes and was speeding. Bell blew a zero on a breathalyzer test, but failed sobriety exams and had a swollen tongue, deputies said.

Deputies said Bell indicated that he may have had prescription pills in his four-door Mercedes.

Bell was charged with DWI and deputies are awaiting results from a blood test to see if he was under the influence of some substance.

Bell was released under his own recognizance.

Deputies said they found four prescription bottles in Bell's trunk. They said one of those bottles contained amphetamines.
I anticipate that Bell will sue himself and recover rightful damages.

You never know where the screenwriters get their ideas for AMC's Albuquerque-based TV show "Breaking Bad", but I'm sure when many Albuquerqueans first saw the series' cheesy TV ad for Saul Goodman, flogging his services for criminal defense, the first thought writhing around in the back of their heads was of Ron Bell.

But the two practices are completely different, of course. Different aspects of the law, after all. And any similarity between the TV characters and any persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

Of course....

Fear Of The Oil Slick Is Beginning To Jeopardize The Florida Real Estate Market

This just strikes me as really strange. A sign of the times, maybe. Of course, under the circumstances, no 60-day guarantee would be worth the paper it's printed on:
FORT MYERS — A Naples beachfront homeowner filed a class-action federal lawsuit Thursday seeking at least $5 million from BP and others to reimburse Florida homeowners affected by the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

...Joannou, 48, a North Naples Realtor who sells properties in Collier and Lee counties, also alleges buyers of coastal homes are watching the growing oil slick and asking for guarantees before purchasing homes, while some Realtors are offering oil-spill addenda allowing contract cancellation or a delay of closings up to 30 days if signs of the spill show up within 48 hours of a closing.

“Realtors and brokers are reporting that homebuyers are either shying away from buying homes on the beach or requiring a 60-day guarantees that the oil will not affect the beach before signing real estate contracts,” the lawsuit says.

...The lawsuit alleges Joannou and others have been subjected to a substantial and unreasonable invasion of the use and enjoyment of their homes due to the fumes from the oil spill and “chemical stew” and Joannou has experienced a “repugnant and unbearable odor and fumes ... like heated oil coming off the water.”

No oil or tar balls have washed ashore on Naples beaches and there are no reports of wildlife being affected in Southwest Florida, although some property owners did complain of a smell when the rig was burning.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Toy Story 3 - "Great Escape"

After Sunday afternoon's show, several of us DMTC folks ate at Great Wall of China, and went to see Pixar's "Toy Story, Three". At one point, I dozed, and slightly lost track of the plot. Nevertheless, the movie was very enjoyable and very clever, and helped round off a fine weekend.

"Crazy For You" Opening Weekend

A fun and enjoyable weekend was had by all. Since I spend a lot of time moving large and cumbersome set pieces around on stage right, such activities loom large in my memory.

Friday night, set disaster clouded the horizon. The traveller curtain got hung up on the theater set piece during the first Deadrock scene. Even though we had taken the precaution of moving the set piece well downstage of the set piece, we set it in place before the traveller curtain was opened - a big no-no, and cause of the trouble). Later, the stressed and undermanned set change into the first saloon scene was pushed beyond the breaking point by addition of a new element (ladder) and by trouble getting the chairs out of the wings (lights were brought up before we were ready). In addition, apparently a wheel broke of the car set piece.

Nevertheless, the Friday opening-night crowd was full of enthusiastic theater participants of all sorts (e.g., MikeMac, Darryl Strohl), and their raucous support helped erase any bad set-change memories.

Saturday night, set changes went smoothly, with a few exceptions (the fender fell off the car). Sadie from aerobics class and her husband Herman came to see a show at DMTC for the very first time, and I was very happy and relieved to hear that they really enjoyed themselves. Sadie wants to make a class announcement in aerobics class on Monday recommending the show to everyone!

On Sunday afternoon, at the start of show, Steve presented two $500 DMTC scholarships to graduating high-school seniors (and YPT veterans) Nora Unkel and Chris Petersen.

Sunday set changes went well, with the exception of a wine bottle that fell off the rolling bar during a set change, which shattered on concrete. We were very quick at sweeping up the debris, however. With the exception of a tiny pinprick cut I suffered, the accident cleanup was uneventful.

Now, some down time!

Flagstaff Fires

Several fires in the vicinity of Flagstaff, AZ, have set everyone on edge there, I'm sure.

I remember spending the winter of 1985/86 at the U.S. Forest Service's Ft. Valley Experimental Station, about 10 miles, or so, NW of Flagstaff, and learning just how vulnerable the northern Arizona Ponderosa Pine forest was to wildfire. The Eagle Rock fire isn't all that far away from Ft. Valley. The Hardy fire was in populated areas just outside of town. Scary!

New Mexico is experiencing fires as well (e.g., South Fork; Tecolote).

The best of luck to everyone in the Southwest!:
FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) - A California man was arrested Sunday on suspicion of leaving behind hot coals at a campsite just outside Flagstaff, sparking a wildfire that forced the evacuation of 170 homes and a hotel near downtown, a city spokeswoman said.

...Authorities said he was camping in a wooded area a couple of miles from downtown when he built a small campfire Saturday for either cooking or making coffee. Investigators believe he dumped coals from the fire on the ground before leaving the site.

...The wildfire quickly spread up a hill and threatened homes in two neighborhoods. Evacuation orders for 170 homes remained in place Sunday, and a park and popular bike trail were closed as a precaution, Coconino County spokeswoman Joanne Keene said. The Little America Hotel also was briefly evacuated.

...Crews worked overnight and Sunday to establish a perimeter around the 350-acre fire, mop up some hot spots and protect structures. But Keene said fire officials have not declared any part of the blaze contained.

"The winds are expected to pick up and the latest I've heard is about 30 mph, so we're concerned about that," she said.

The fire sent smoke through parts of Flagstaff and caused traffic to back up on Interstate 40. Authorities said no homes or buildings had been burned.