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2010 April — Why Now?
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Posts from — April 2010

What’s The Problem?

Gulf Gusher flagYou fabricate a large funnel and attach it to pipe larger than is used for the well casing. Everything from stainless steel because it’s going into salt water and carrying petroleum. You bolt the thing together so when the emergency is over it can be used for other blow outs. You add flotation collars to reduce the weight, control the descent with support cables, and use flexible joints near the top to prevent it from becoming a large pry bar and snap off the well pipe. At the top you have a ship to keep position, and other ships to store the oil when it comes up the pipe. Oil is lighter than water, so it will come up the pipe without pumps. The pipe is open, so pressure isn’t a problem.

You have an explosives guy construct a shaped-charge collar to cut the well pipe above the well where it is undamaged, and attach cables to the damaged sections to haul them out of the way. This reduces the number of leaks to one, and that one will be shooting the oil up the funnel pipe to be collected.

While the system is being stabilized you have a saddle clamp union constructed by a machine shop that will be used to add an new length of pipe and shut off valve. Tools will need to be modified or built to install the saddle clamp because they will have to tighten bolts under pressures of a ton per square inch, but that is definitely doable. There are all kinds of people in the area who can build this stuff, and the military can supply the cutting collar.

The Remotely Operated Vehicles are already on station, so what’s the delay?

April 30, 2010   6 Comments

The Tar Cometh

Gulf Gusher flagThis is not a “leak” or a “spill”, this is a “gusher”. That oil is shooting out at about 145.83 gallons per minute, which is the flow rate for a 2½-inch fire hose, and it is non-stop. This gusher is releasing enough oil to fill a 2800 square foot house every day.

CNN reports that Florida declares state of emergency in 6 counties

(CNN) — Florida Gov. Charlie Crist declared a state of emergency in six counties Friday as a result of the Gulf Coast oil spill, the governor’s office said.

Crist joins Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, who declared a state of emergency in his state Thursday.

Crist said the oil spill “threatens the state of Florida with a major disaster.” He declared an emergency in Escambia, Santa Rosa, Okaloosa, Walton, Bay and Gulf counties.

That the Florida coast from the Alabama border east to Port St. Joe [the tip of the “bump”, the Apalachicola River, or the start of the Eastern Time zone].

Dr. Jeff Masters looks at the winds and currents that will be affecting the spread of the oil, and the weather that is making containment of the slick a problem at this time.

April 30, 2010   2 Comments

Yep, They’re Gamblers

Here’s the transcript of an interview with Lloyd Blankfein,the CEO and chairman of Goldman Sachs, by Michele Norris on NPR’s All Things Considered yesterday. This was Blankfein’s most revealing response:

“Without liquid markets, nobody would buy debt or equity in companies, which by the way is what finances companies, unless they thought they could sell them and move into and out of their positions.”

According to this philosophy, you don’t buy a house to live in, you buy it to sell it for a profit; you buy stock to sell it it for a profit; you don’t buy anything you can’t sell for a profit. This is short-term next quarter thinking. They aren’t interested in the survival of a business, only that the stock will rise so they can sell it. These aren’t investors, at best they are retailers.

This guy believes that companies are financed by their stock and debt, not by their profits,and that’s the kind of thinking behind most major bankruptcies. This is the kind of thinking that is destroying the print media, which is profitable, but not profitable enough to service all the debt accumulated during leveraged take-overs. Corporations are no longer concerned with shareholders, only with share-sellers.

I happened to have a deep-seated moral objection to Wall Street gamblers being taxed at a lower rate than enlisted military personnel being shot at in this country’s wars. The 15% capital gains tax is the same as the bottom income tax bracket and less than the Self-Employment tax paid by entrepreneurs. Why should people who actually work pay higher taxes than gamblers?

April 30, 2010   Comments Off on Yep, They’re Gamblers

Friday Cat Blogging

Just A Member of Her Staff

Friday Cat Blogging

Where’s the food?

[Editor: Ringo doesn’t spend all of her time on the roof as the “Velveteen Gargoyle”, but she has come to expect food whenever she sees me.]

Friday Ark

April 30, 2010   5 Comments


It’s Hexennacht and the moon is waning from full, but there is no Blocksberg available for dancing down here and local fire officials frown on bonfires.

Of course the Church grabbed this holiday too and called it Walpurgisnacht in honor of one of their Anglo-Saxon saints, rather than good German witches [Hexen].

The Celts celebrate Beltaine at this time of the year, May 5th according to Archæoastronomy, which is considered the start of Summer by their reckoning. It is the midpoint between the Vernal Equinox and the Summer Solstice.

April 30, 2010   Comments Off on Hexennacht

Mind Like A Steel Trap…

That rusted shut long ago.

The Pensacola Beach Blog covers the reaction to the oil spill by our Congresscritter, Jefferson Miller, the Chumuckla Chucklehead.

Miller prefers:

  • Corporations over Cobia
  • Tar balls over Turtles
  • Petroleum over Porpoises
  • Natural Gas over Nature’s Grace
  • Profits over Paradise

He voted for drilling in Florida’s coastal waters before, and the huge oil spill hasn’t altered his opinion in the slightest.

April 29, 2010   Comments Off on Mind Like A Steel Trap…

You Will Be Assimilated

The BBC gives him space to expound: Apple boss Steve Jobs explains ban on Flash

Mr Jobs said Flash was made for an era of “PCs and mice” and performed poorly when translated to run on touchscreen smartphones and handheld devices.

He also criticised the technology for being only under the control of Adobe.

The letter comes soon after Flash creator Adobe announced it was ending its efforts to make tools that translate Flash code into programs that can run on Apple gadgets.

Adobe’s announcement followed a change to the terms and conditions of the licence that software developers must sign when writing code to run on Apple products.

That change banned developers from using the automatic tranlsation tools Adobe had been developing.

So, a control freak complains about other control freaks. He complains that Flash works as badly on Macs as Quicktime works under Windows. Steve still won’t forgive Adobe for being so nasty about Postscript fonts, i.e. wanting to get paid when they were used.

The only things that prevents the world from realizing what jerks Apple and Adobe really are is the presence of Microsoft.

April 29, 2010   Comments Off on You Will Be Assimilated

A ‘Minor’ Correction

Update: the BBC is now reporting some oil has come ashore in Louisiana.

Gulf Gusher flagThe BBC reports that US military joins Gulf of Mexico oil spill effort. This is to some extent the result of the revised estimate on the amount of oil coming from the leak from 1000 barrels per day to 5000 barrels per day, but what is a 500% increase among friends.

The article also reports that the well didn’t have the remotely controlled shut-off valve required by some countries because the US regulators didn’t think it was necessary. After all these huge spills are rare… well relatively rare… OK, not widely reported, in the Gulf of Mexico. You see, only two of the top five oil spills have occurred in the Gulf [See the sidebar near the bottom of the article. The Exxon Valdez is number 5].

I guess it would have been too expensive to have included an old fashioned gate valve at the well head, one that was over-sized so you could move the drill through it. Something that ROV could shut with just force and a long bar if necessary.

April 29, 2010   Comments Off on A ‘Minor’ Correction

Crist Runs As An Independent

The Miami Herald is reporting Crist goes it alone in his bid for Senate.

Charlie was too moderate to win a Republican primary, so now we have a three way race: Meek, Crist, and Rubio.

April 28, 2010   8 Comments

And The Band Played On

funny pictures of cats with captions
[If you don’t get the allusion this video makes it clear.]

The BBC reports that US to set fire to oil rig leak. They are going to attempt to burn off as much of the oil as they can, converting it into air pollution and green house gases. This is heavy crude and rather tar-like, so it won’t be easy to light.

I located NOAA’s National Ocean Service official site on the DEEPWATER HORIZON Incident and NASA’s Earth Observatory is continuing to provide satellite images of the spill.

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April 28, 2010   Comments Off on And The Band Played On

Get Out Your Crayons

It is getting to be time to practice for that decennial abstract art competition known as reapportionment. Every ten years, following the publication of the Census, states begin redrawing the lines for their Congressional districts.

The GOP is already practicing with their Redistricting Majority Project, which, of course, doesn’t mean they are planning to win with a pencil what they can’t win with a ballot box. [Yeah, right…]

I have previously highlighted the GOP cartography in Florida, which results in the minority party in the state having 65% of the seats in both houses of the state legislature, and the majority of Florida’s Congresscritters.

Fair Districts Florida has managed to get two amendments on the Florida ballot to address these issues. Amendment 5 deals with state districts, and Amendment 6 deals with Congressional districts. They are simple and straight-forward stating that political considerations should be removed from the process.

As Fred Grimm noted in the Miami Herald the Republicans in the legislature are working on their own amendment to gut what the citizens have proposed.

The current problem in Florida is that most of those who represent the people in the state are elected in party primaries, not in the general election. This results in the party activists having inordinate power in how the state is governed. The majority of voters are locked out of the process because the state has closed primaries.

If you are a Florida voter, you should vote “yes” on Amendments 5 & 6 and tell the politicians to put away their crayons.

April 27, 2010   7 Comments


Etymology of privilege:

1154 (recorded earlier in O.E., but as a Latin word), from O.Fr. privilege (12c.), from L. privilegium “law applying to one person,” later “privilege,” from privus “individual” + lex (gen. legis) “law.”

From CBS and CNet: Police Said Close to Expanding iPhone Prototype Probe

One reason for an expanded investigation is obvious: law enforcement wants to learn who found the so-called 4G prototype and offered it for sale. California law makes it a crime for someone to find lost property but not return it.

Josh Topolsky, Engadget’s editor-in-chief, said police haven’t contacted anyone in his organization as of Monday evening. Engadget had communicated with the person who found the iPhone prototype, reportedly in a Redwood City, Calif., bar in San Mateo County, and posted a handful of photographs on April 17.

Apple sells the iPhone 3G S for $199. When I was in law enforcement $250 [it was a long time ago, so the limit is probably much higher now] was the minimum value for a felony, so we are looking at petit larceny, a misdemeanor. In this case the property was returned to Apple after it was “advertised” and they identified themselves as the owner.

Why are warrants being sought and issued, doors being smashed, personal property being seized for such an insignificant matter? Is San Mateo so crime free that their police department has nothing better to do?

This smells an awful lot like the San Mateo Police Department is now working for Apple. Does Steve Jobs have his own laws?

April 27, 2010   2 Comments

Oh, Great…

Gulf Gusher flagOur coast could be polluted even though Florida derives no benefit from the drilling according to MSNBC: Oil rig leak could take 2 weeks to plug

Officials have been trying for days to use the remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) to activate a “blowout preventer” aboard the sunken Deepwater Horizon. The preventer is essentially a cutoff valve at the well head.

On Sunday, crews operated a ROV nearly a mile below the surface of the Gulf of Mexico, but were unable to activate the switch.

Those efforts are expected to continue but other options listed by the federal Office of Response and Restoration include:

  • “Use an undersea dome to contain leaking oil, rigged by ROVs” — an idea that “has not been tried at this depth before”;
  • Drill relief wells to detour the oil and which could then be plugged, a process that “could take several months”;
  • Continue aggressive skimming and dispersing of oil on the surface using boat crews.

Oil was oozing slowly toward the coast Monday, endangering hundreds of miles of marshes, barrier islands and white sand beaches in four states from Louisiana to Florida.

The sea life in the Gulf is already stressed by the dead zone off the mouth of the Mississippi, and now it will be attacked by crude oil. Yes, they can disperse it, but it will still kill the lowest level of life in the Gulf, which will impact the entire food chain.

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April 26, 2010   7 Comments

Avoiding Arizona

A lot of people already avoid Phoenix and Maricopa County, Arizona so they don’t have to concern themselves with Sheriff Joe Arpaio, but it looks like the rest of state has followed his lead and gone weird.

The state is less than 400 miles across whether you use I-40 or I-10, so it’s an easy day with one stop for fuel and food, and you don’t have to buy anything from Arizonans.

The Diné are up North, so you can buy from them, and if you want to visit the Grand Canyon, the Hualapai are on the south side, and that transparent observation deck over the Canyon is theirs.

If you need to use I-10 [or the I-10/I-8 combination to or from San Diego] then you can stop with the Tohono O’odham in the Sonoran Desert. If you have an interest in baskets, they make great ones, but the best ones are not cheap unless you really appreciate the craftsmanship.

If you are interested in how screwed up things are in Arizona, you should check out the Border Issues section in the Tohono O’odham entry.

Remember that Native American reservations are sovereign areas and not subject to the lunacy of the Arizona legislature.

April 25, 2010   13 Comments