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Deepwater oil spills and the limits of government


We're conditioned, politically, to become indignant when government authorities fail to act quickly to save us from disaster and calamity. Where's the cavalry, we say. George W. Bush discovered this during Katrina, and now some pundits are skewering the Obama administration for being slow to respond to the Gulf disaster. Obama is heading there today to show he cares. The administration yesterday put Adm. Thad Allen in charge of the overall response, replacing Rear Adm. Mary Landry, who had had some deer-in-the-headlights moments on TV and had initially declared that there was no leakage at the bottom of the gulf.

But here's the disturbing fact of the matter: The government cavalry can't do anything at the bottom of the sea.

Adm. Allen made that pretty clear in his news conference Saturday afternoon: The problem needs to be fixed at the source of the leak, 5,000 feet below the surface, and the military doesn't have the technology to do that. Only the oil industry can fix this problem. We're all at the mercy of BP and the engineers who understand deepwater drilling.

Ken Salazar said this morning that there are 30,000 wells in the Gulf, but how many are in deep water? This isn't continental shelf drilling -- this is cutting edge stuff, and as we learn more we'll probably discover that there are a lot of things that can go wrong when puncturing the planet at extreme depth.

Moreover, you can pretty much ignore any officials numbers about the amount of oil leaking from the pipes and wellhead in what is called the Mississippi River Canyon. The first number we heard was 1,000 barrels a day, then the Coast Guard upped the estimate to 5,000 barrels, but it could be more. A complete failure of the wellhead would mean 100,000 barrels a day leaking into the Gulf, Allen said.

And it's not like the Exxon Valdez, which contained a finite amount of crude. This is a large (if not huge by oil industry standards) wellfield in the formation beneath the Gulf, and it's under pressure.

Here's the not-so-reassuring comment by Allen this morning on CNN:

"The dfference between the Exxon Valdez and this event is we had a vessel, and once the oil was spilled we could measure what was left on the vessel and the volume that was left. We knew exactly what we were dealing with in terms of the quantity of the spill. This spill at this point in my view is indeterminate. That makes it asymmetrical, anomalous and one of the most complex things we've ever dealt with."

Yikes.

.

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By Joel Achenbach  |  May 2, 2010; 9:05 AM ET
 
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Next: Gulf oil spill to reach Atlantic seaboard? [Updated]

Comments

As has been noted before, rapidly developing situations are not conducive to quick, definitive statements nor solutions.

*SIGH*

Posted by: Scottynuke | May 2, 2010 9:55 AM | Report abuse

Before I read the kit, perhaps those of us in the east can direct our fans to Alberta and send them our warm, muggy air, we are not as warm as DC this weekend but the humidity has returned - quite warm over night last night.

Posted by: dmd3 | May 2, 2010 10:03 AM | Report abuse

Oil spill makes a good campaign picture "what Republican de-regulation can do for you".

Posted by: Maddogg | May 2, 2010 10:10 AM | Report abuse

Hmmm, I seem to have mudged myself (which is always good for a tickle).

Okay -- "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo":

Salander *is* the main character, and is more completely developed in the second book (as a sort of "prequel" to the first). The third book is more redemptive in a way, and ties it all together. Maybe that's why I like the third book the best.

The original title in Swedish is "Men Who Hate Women" and it was changed to sort of *pacify* the North American audience. That was brought out specifically by the director of the movie on the Charlie Rose show (I suggest that if you're interested, go see it online). I suspect that if the author were still alive, he would have protested against the change, as the original title is completely apt.

Larsson was an indefatigable fighter *for* women's rights and *against* racism and related neo-Nazi, skinhead and white-supremacist movements. And I think that's why he crafted Salander's character the way he did. She gave just as good as she got (and she got plenty!), and she did it at an enormous price. But she was a survivor par excellence, and the way she survived is definitely worth reading about IMHO.

The series was well done, I thought.

Now, back to the pollution in the Gulf. Not only should BP be charged with the cost of the cleanup -- which simply *cannot* go on for decades, but it should be fined to a much higher degree than what has been allocated in its "Pinto" budget. Those who remember the Ford Pinto will remember.

Posted by: -ftb- | May 2, 2010 10:16 AM | Report abuse

Joel: I think you mean limits *Of* government.

Although Joel is quite right that the government lacks the expertise and equipment to solve this alone, clearly there are things that the government can do

The government can lead the charge in dealing with the containment and clean-up of this spill. And certainly the government can continue to put pressure on BP to move aggressively (as if they weren't motivated enough.)

Further, of course, once this mess is over with - whenever that might be - the government should certainly take an aggressive role in reviewing and enforcing mandated failsafe mechanisms.

But I must agree that right now, the government, in and off itself, has little more ability to stop the leak than it does to defuse a hurricane.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | May 2, 2010 10:34 AM | Report abuse

Another paradox of human behavior on the Gulf blow out. Those that yell loudest to shrink government are the first to scream that government isn't doing enough. Where's the Republican individualism rebel yell now of "keep government's hands off my everything?" Anyway, what can the government do to fix a leaky well 5,000 feet deep in the Gulf of Mexico? That's like people knocking on your door demanding you fix the space station. "Sure, I'll grab my toolbox and get right on it. I took fixing space stations 101 in college" you say. Only a handful of petro engineers have the know how on this tragic deal.

When do we learn our lesson not to let big corporations off the hook? When industry says "such a thing could never happen" why are we so lame to believe it? It can happen and does happen. Our largest American industries (Goldman Sachs and BP) are failing us now.

Posted by: citizen4truth1 | May 2, 2010 10:37 AM | Report abuse

Also, to vent just a bit, I am nauseated by the efforts of some to view this enfolding catastrophe primarily as a potential issue for political gain. I know, there were a whole lot of people who exploited Katrina to badmouth the Bush Administration, but, in that case, there really was a lack of responsiveness in a situation in which the government had the primary tools and responsibility. Even so, I didn't much care for it then - and certainly not when the disaster was unfolding.

Further, although it is natural to consider the political implications of significant events, at a certain point it just becomes ghoulish. I hate to think that there are people who, on some level, hope this thing gets really, really bad just so they can say "neener neener neener."

Posted by: RD_Padouk | May 2, 2010 10:40 AM | Report abuse

Mr. A, did you intend for the kit title to read, "...limits of government"?

When I stated in my 7:48pm post on the last kit that “everyone's in unchartered territory now” and “no one thought an incident of this sort was possible”, it was intended to be with tongue in cheek.

That said, the links Mr. A provided in the last kit do indicate the company and the U.S. government believed:
a) an incident of this type couldn’t occur, and;
b) BP had the capability to handle an even more severe spill.

“We're breaking new ground here. It's hard to write a plan for a catastrophic event that has no precedent, which is what this was.” --Thad Allen, Coast Guard Commandant

“We never imagined that it would happen because the safety measures were supposed to work and prevent it from happening.” --Hammond Eve, U.S. Department of the Interior

“BP ‘has the capability to respond to the appropriate worst-case spill scenario,’ which it defines in a chart as a ‘volume uncontrolled blowout’ of 162,000 barrels a day.” --Excerpt from a company document submitted to the Interior Department in February 2009

Now one of the people (Allen) who is on the record stating that planning for the unforeseen is hard is in charge. I hope he has more of a can-do attitude than his previous remarks indicate.

Posted by: MsJS | May 2, 2010 10:41 AM | Report abuse

Ya know, at first I was going to flag my use of the term "enfolding catastrophe" as an SCC sine I really meant "unfolding." But the more I think about this, "enfolding" might actually be the more accurate term.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | May 2, 2010 11:13 AM | Report abuse

Poor Joel. Stuck, week after week, with the same handful of special needs commentors who just can't stay on topic.

Posted by: Dawny_Chambers | May 2, 2010 11:37 AM | Report abuse

Funny, that last remark was off topic.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | May 2, 2010 11:39 AM | Report abuse

It was obvious from the beginning that the difference between this incident and the the Exxon Valdez is the difference between spilling a glass of milk and having a cow in the room.

Hmmmm.

Posted by: Boomslang | May 2, 2010 11:39 AM | Report abuse

Darn dyslexia.

Posted by: Boomslang | May 2, 2010 11:41 AM | Report abuse

Joel - You (and others) refer to this as a 'spill.' This linguistically implies a fixed quantity. I think this event is better described as a rupture (in a well), which allows for the indisputable fact that the quantity isn't fixed or (yet) known. Or, hey, call it a 'gusher!' The Post has been reporting a flow rate of about 200K gal/day. You should look at the Skytruth blog, which is sharing credible calculations of potentially 5 times that figure. That may explain the ongoing stream of news saying that the oil slick is spreading 'faster than expected.'

Posted by: dneal1 | May 2, 2010 11:46 AM | Report abuse

It would be interesting to find out what goverment agencys allowed BP to talk them out of further regulations on the rig. Where was the backup plan? Why not a manual shutoff installed? tr

Posted by: roosboys | May 2, 2010 11:48 AM | Report abuse

I have a suggestion for you, Dawny_Chambers -- if your OCD requires you to have people stay on topic, then this blog is probably not for you. Joel doesn't appear to care, nor do we, if we roam away from the topic du jour. We have been blogging like this for years. We like it. You don't. What does that tell you about you?

*don't bang the door on the way out*

If only it were olive oil .....

Posted by: -ftb- | May 2, 2010 11:52 AM | Report abuse

Greetings, Dawny.

Funny, I don't recall Mr. A ever claiming he is "poor" because we regulars regularly veer off topic.

That judgment appears to be yours. You're entitled to it, naturally. Would you like to elaborate?

BTW, do you plan to post something on topic? We would welcome it.

Posted by: MsJS | May 2, 2010 11:52 AM | Report abuse

Raising hand and confessing: I am a "special needs commentor" as Dawny Chambers notes.

Posted by: CollegeQuaParkian1 | May 2, 2010 11:54 AM | Report abuse

Hi, CqP!

My name is MsJS and I, too, am a special needs commentor.

Posted by: MsJS | May 2, 2010 12:01 PM | Report abuse

We love you anyway, CqP.

Such opportunities abound for us in this golden age-- blogging, writing, editing, teaching college, doing rocket science, running businesses, trying creeps in court to put 'em away for six months or for life.

Hear the roar of the special-needs!

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | May 2, 2010 12:02 PM | Report abuse

I won't agree to that label, because I prefer to think of myself as normalcy-challenged instead.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | May 2, 2010 12:03 PM | Report abuse

CommentatOR makes me feel a bit of the robot coming on.

Posted by: CollegeQuaParkian1 | May 2, 2010 12:13 PM | Report abuse

I've always prided myself on having very special needs. You know, like fine automobiles with rich Corinthian leather. Cigars rolled on the supple thighs of young women. Wines raised in rare orchards located on verdant isles in the Mediterranean and harvested by young women whose thighs, though supple, didn't quite make the cut for the rolling of cigars.

Wait. Where was I.

Oh yes.

Whilst I might have these and similarly Special Needs, they, alas, go tragically unmet.

Which is why, of course, I end up posting here.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | May 2, 2010 12:21 PM | Report abuse

You know, dneal1 has a point. Although the term "Oil Spill" is part of our lexicon, this really calls for a more ominously open-ended term. Like bubblin' crude.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | May 2, 2010 12:29 PM | Report abuse

OK, I've digressed enough. Back to the topic.

http://articles.latimes.com/2010/may/01/nation/la-na-oil-spill-measure-20100502

Two sources, SkyTruth and an oceanographer at FSU, put the size of the spill as of May 1 at between 10 million and 11.1 million gallons of crude oil.

SkyTruth also estimates a "rock Bottom" leak rate at 25,000 bbls (1.05mil gallons) a day.

Meanwhile Adm. Allen, the man in charge, says "any exact estimate is probably impossible at this time."

So how does he determine what action to take if he isn't trying to determine the magnitude of the problem?

Another inspirational Adm. Allen quote:
"Quite frankly, the continued leakage of anything for an extended period of time is going to cause an extraordinary amount of problems for us."

I guess such insight is why he's now in charge.

Posted by: MsJS | May 2, 2010 12:30 PM | Report abuse

There is probably too much being made of BP's supposed shortcomings. A friend of mine from a local NGO once laid out what I thought was a very healthy philosophy. He felt that corporation were chartered specifically to make money for their investors, they were good at it, and should be allowed to focus on it. So he preferred to lobby governments for setting ethical legal limits on how to make money, and educate the general public on non monetary costs of their personal decisions.

I was one of the ones to bring up the 'it can't happen' line, and I meant it in particular reference to the BOP failing. I was speculating, but if you work in a design team you will hear it often enough from someone trying to contain the scope of work. It's usually shorthand for 'I-don't-think-it-is-likely-enough-to-be-worth-more-time-or-money'. The statement's value varies depending on the knowledge of the speaker and whether he actually has the power (money) to do anything.

Since there appear to be stricter standards in other countries for the BOP, I assume there is something better that somebody chose not to build this way (although I don't know if it would have helped). Consider a sequence of apparently small probability events that lead to the accident. Consider multiple platforms. Consider possible effects ranging from some material damage to loss of life and full blown eco-catastrophe, possibly unique to the site. Consider potential interdependencies or common root causes for all the supposedly independent failures leading to the accident. Doing this kind of risk/safety analysis can be very complex and expert engineering does not come cheap. You can see how a company can fall back on a template analysis and just go with the government standards as adequate controls.

The practical problem is that governments often don't have the technical knowledge to set regulation proactively. Regulation is almost always a response to belated realisation of how badly things can go wrong.

PS - Technical problems, physical laws, and random events care little for political philosophy. I'm ignoring pretty much all opinions that try and blanket this on their least favored political party. There is a little blame to go everywhere.

Posted by: qgaliana | May 2, 2010 12:33 PM | Report abuse

I have a little Zemanta doodad at the end of the Kit: "Related articles by Zemanta". Anyone else? Is this a new "feature" which I will zone out like all the ads?

I suppose you can blame this oil disaster on all of us ultimately, for not pushing for alternative energy, although God knows some of us try. But I agree, now is not the time for blame, but for someone to figure out how the heck to stop the gusher. Smart as he is, that's not Obama's expertise, or Thad Allen's. They need to provide the resources the experts need to figure this out, and quickly.

I lived in Houston for a time in the 80s, and remember with disgust the oil which would wash up on the beaches near Galveston. This is an accident that's been a long time coming.

Posted by: seasea1 | May 2, 2010 12:50 PM | Report abuse

http://www.tampabay.com/news/environment/water/article1090491.ece

The St. Pete Times has what seems about the best coverage at the moment.

It appears that none of Florida's beaches are threatened at the moment. The Loop Current in the Gulf may very well carry oil (much of it?) into the Gulf Stream, so the Atlantic coast of Florida and perhaps the Bahamas are at risk, perhaps more so than the Florida Gulf coast--as odd as that may seem.

Experts at the University of Florida, University of South Florida, and University of Miami seem to have similar opinions of the Loop Current threat. One (UF, quoted by the Gainesville Sun) stated that currents, not wind, direct the movement of oil until it's close to shore.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | May 2, 2010 12:54 PM | Report abuse

seasea, this is from Zemanta's website.

"Zemanta is a tool that looks over your shoulder while you blog and gives you tips and advice, suggests related content and pictures and makes sure your posts get promoted as they deserve to be. We at Zemanta are thinking hard to help make blogging easier for you. We're engineering better creative tools to help you get the most out of your blogging time."

Posted by: MsJS | May 2, 2010 12:58 PM | Report abuse

DotC, if that is the likely scenario (the oil will flow out into the Atlantic) then it will be more of a problem during hurricane season than if it stayed in the Gulf.

Ick.

Posted by: MsJS | May 2, 2010 1:01 PM | Report abuse

Topics? There are topics? Son of a gun.

It's more like the tropics here in DC today! Yuck.

Posted by: -pj- | May 2, 2010 1:04 PM | Report abuse

I hate when someone looks over my shoulder. And gives me advice.

Posted by: seasea1 | May 2, 2010 1:07 PM | Report abuse

Isn't it just amazing how everyone is so reasonable and loathe to blame the government or the administration for a "man-made disaster", but five years ago George W. Bush allowed a hurrican to come ashore on the Gulf Coast? Surely you jest, Joel? Surely there are no limits on what government can do? Surely government can adjust the temperature of the Earth's atmosphere to a comfortable 72 degrees and serve everyone pina coladas!!?? Obama was too busy trash talking the GOVERNMENT OF ARIZONA to worry about the oil spill.

Posted by: chatard | May 2, 2010 1:17 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, DotC. It does seem odd that the Atlantic Coast would be in danger. From the map I saw in the Post today, it looked like the slick was moving toward the Louisiana coast. To switch around and endanger the other coast of Florida would be a horrible mess and, I assume, means the oil would be still be pouring out for a long time.

I agree that 'oil spill' is a lousy way to describe this. Picking up on Boomslang's idea, this is the difference between having a leaky water cooler bottle and having a supply line that ruptured.

Posted by: -pj- | May 2, 2010 1:19 PM | Report abuse

Good job, Brownie. A horse breeder as head of a major emergency response agency, that was very wise.

This disaster involves business operations, which, alas, are considered private, not necessarily subject to government takeover, unlike in communist countries.

Also, it's offshore.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | May 2, 2010 1:22 PM | Report abuse

chatard, I'd like to politely point out that no one expected the Bush admin to keep the hurricane from going ashore. We just expected them to know about it and try to mitigate the effect on the people along that shore.

Posted by: -TBG- | May 2, 2010 1:33 PM | Report abuse

But what about my needs?

Posted by: Yoki | May 2, 2010 1:46 PM | Report abuse

You are very special, Yoki, so your needs must be, too.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | May 2, 2010 1:51 PM | Report abuse

Yoki!

Special is as special does. :)

Posted by: CollegeQuaParkian1 | May 2, 2010 2:00 PM | Report abuse

A simple analogy to the Gulf situation could go like this. A private dealer wants to sell you a super hot car, but it has no breaks. You like that car a lot. You are addicted to hot cars. The dealer says to you "it's no problem, you'll be fine." You say "okay, I believe you and I'll buy it." You get into an accident and sustain severe injuries. Now, who is at fault? There are rules that govern this scenario, of course, but the basic tenant is the same with BP. Why should we believe BP that it is safe to drill in 5,000 feet of water off the American coast when it's risky business and the consequences are tremendous? Nothing is 100% safe, but why do we allow something to be even 60% safe? (It should be 99+% safe before we approve it.) Because there is lots of money at stake. Regulators should be skeptical and diligent when they are permissive. Like Wall Street was. (Not!)

Both the US government and BP share the blame for this spill, but it is not that simple to point fingers. It is our culture that permits it. Who is to blame for all the cigarette smoking related deaths? The cigarette companies made billions and billions in profits and still do to kill people, but we puff away and demand smoking freedoms. When we are addicted we will do anything for our fix. Like cigarettes, we are addicted to oil.

We really need to be more risk adverse in our society and say no to the instant gratification of big profits that explode in our faces. We need to express clarity on what is okay and what isn't. What is at stake is our long term health and well being. The devastation of the Gulf blow out, whatever it winds up being, should have been avoided. BP should never have been allowed to drill that well in the first place because it was too risky. Plain and simple. Goldman Sachs (and other wall streeters) should never have been allowed to do what they did either by causing millions to lose precious retirement funds. Our moral clarity is a bit fuzzy. We need a new set of glasses that helps us to see clearly.

Posted by: citizen4truth1 | May 2, 2010 2:08 PM | Report abuse

To citizen4truth1 -- oh, *do* stick around. You will find that you are quite at home here.

Hey Yoki! How about if I fax you some Rocky Road Ice Cream for yer needs? Or some hot maple syrup to pour on the new fresh snow? Or, some of our hot and muggy weather to melt said snow?

So, I have this pile of unread (mostly) magazines piled up on my table, and I brush up against it, thereby whooshing them all over the floor. I looked at it, sighed and walked over it and into another room. Works for me. I promise to get to it later today ... which it is becoming soon.

Red Wings game is on at 8 tonight. Don't know if I'll watch. Makes me much too nervous, and I don't want to jinx them.

That being said, it's the bottom of the 5th and the Tigers and the Angels are still without any runs, although the Tigers are up 3-1 in the hit department.

Well, I think it's time to take care of the spill in my vicinity. I suspect it will be done more quickly than the one down in the Gulf.

Posted by: -ftb- | May 2, 2010 2:24 PM | Report abuse

All you tea party people who live in the 'redneck Riviera', heres an example of less goverment, smaller govt. can do. BP was allowed to write there own contigency plan. Complete with no manual shutoff device,as a backup plan in case of a spill. Is that the less govt. intervention you like? tr

Posted by: roosboys | May 2, 2010 2:33 PM | Report abuse

I'd like to see this shut-off manual device, a big red valve wheel complete with a sign posted just above sporting an arrow indicating the correct direction of rotation. At a depth of 1600m.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | May 2, 2010 2:48 PM | Report abuse

Yesss! 1-1

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | May 2, 2010 2:49 PM | Report abuse

Tigers up 5-0 in the top of the 7th. Woo-hoo.

Posted by: -ftb- | May 2, 2010 3:04 PM | Report abuse

http://www.wired.com/cars/energy/magazine/15-09/mf_jackrig?currentPage=1

This is a lengthy article that appeared in Wired about three years ago.

My favorite sentence describes a glitch that will cost over $1 million to fix:
"It's just another high-priced mishap in the world of ultradeep-sea drilling — the newest, riskiest, and most technologically extreme drilling frontier."

If the author only knew.

Posted by: MsJS | May 2, 2010 3:05 PM | Report abuse

Drilling 5000 feet below the sea floor?

What we really need in this situation is Harry Stamper:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fj0nP9mYdvg

If only we hadn't lost him on the asteroid. RIP Harry.

Posted by: alexandrian78 | May 2, 2010 3:05 PM | Report abuse

Shrieking, that was my mental image too, except in feet instead of meters - a big clearly marked valve on the bottom of the sea. Way down there. Perhaps I don't understand the concept of a manual shutoff, or perhaps others don't understand the concept of 5000 feet under the sea.

While deep-sea drilling is new, risky and extreme, it is not purely a profit generator. BP and other companies are trying ultra-deep drilling, like fractal on-land drilling, tar and shale sands, and other innovative drilling and extraction methods, because the demand for petroleum products continues apace and will outstrip the supply by conventional drilling methods. The US plays a big part in this, given our disproportionate energy consumption. If we get serious about alternative fuel sources, we lessen the pressure to find new means of extracting petroleum.

Posted by: Ivansmom | May 2, 2010 3:19 PM | Report abuse

The Deepwater Horizon drilled the Macondo well. The dept of the ocean is 5000ft/1600m but the well itself, the sub-seafloor bit drilled into solid stuff, is 18000ft/5500m long. That is 3.38 miles down. That is what a deep deepsea well is.

Jumper, how many elastic turn does that mean in the drilling pipe between the bit and the drive shaft?

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | May 2, 2010 3:30 PM | Report abuse

It's the GOP Drill-Baby-Drill defeat of Safety Regulations that is to Blame. BP Bribary of the GOP party and funding of the Tea Party (by Koch Industries that is responsible for Hundreds of Oil spills). The GOP and Tea Party supported the Oil Industries defeat of Secondary Safety Well, and High Quality Cement Sealing requirements that are standard in Canada, Brazil, and Norway.

The first few days of this spill the Oil companies, Republican Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, and GOP allies said it was nothing, don't worry about it, and Waited a Week before Declaring it a Disaster. We all knew different because you always down play the damage so the Oil Industry isn't restricted. Don't Whine and Cry now. Man up to BP and Oil Industry lack of Safety Practices (Relief wells on Ocean floor), and GOP lack of support for Safety Regulations that caused this. This is a GOP and Oil Industry made Disaster. Stop Crying and Whining for Obama and your Mama and face the reality that Veterans who served in the Middle East already know: that we must develop Alternatives to Oil and Coal and Create Jobs in other Industries.

Right now, Alabama Senator Shelby and other GOP leaders are stalling Energy Legislation that will fund our Alternatives and Free us from Oil and Coal Dependence. Call them now and tell them to stop Stalling. Our Beaches, Industries, Military, Environment and Health cannot afford Waiting and Stalling on the most important JOBS and Energy Independence Legislation we need NOW.

www.votevets.org

Posted by: liveride | May 2, 2010 3:40 PM | Report abuse

Try wrapping your head around 100,000 barrels (=that's 5,500,000 gallons) leaking from the wellhead into the Gulf.... Furthermore, hurricane season begins in June.

Posted by: dozas | May 2, 2010 3:54 PM | Report abuse

Mr. A asked:
"Ken Salazar said this morning that there are 30,000 wells in the Gulf, but how many are in deep water?"

The MMS has lots of free data you can download and crunch. There is also a "fast facts" query tool for the boreholes in the Gulf.
http://www.gomr.mms.gov/homepg/fastfacts/borehole/master.asp

I entered a simple query of water depth greater than 1,000 ft. and got 3,835 boreholes. 1,183 of these are at a water depth greater than 4,000 ft.

Posted by: MsJS | May 2, 2010 4:00 PM | Report abuse

You just need one of those big arrow signs the Roadrunner used to use :-).

Posted by: dmd3 | May 2, 2010 4:03 PM | Report abuse

In the pipeline world we use to call these leak form pressurised pipeline releases. It's not a spill but a continuing (continuous?) release.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | May 2, 2010 4:11 PM | Report abuse

So, a 99.9% yearly safety rate would mean 1.183 wells in deep water would fail per year...


Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | May 2, 2010 4:11 PM | Report abuse

I think that would apply only if all those wells were drilled at the same time, Wilbrod. IIRC, once the drilling's done and the drill rig is replaced with more permanent extraction equipment, risk drops significantly. Jumper? Bueller? Anyone?

Posted by: Scottynuke | May 2, 2010 4:44 PM | Report abuse

Special needs:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kXMf4OBhdBA

Posted by: rashomon | May 2, 2010 4:45 PM | Report abuse

Wow. 3-1 over the Flightless Birds. We have officially saved face.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | May 2, 2010 4:50 PM | Report abuse

There are things we can do to slow down our gluttony of petroleum consumption without giving up much in the way of lifestyle. Here are some steps:

1. Install photovoltaics on your house roof. We should all strive to become energy independent in our homes. The cost is ~$40k give or take, but there are huge tax credits and the loan can be structured through your utility company to yield monthly payments in line with your current energy bill. Net effect = cost neutral to you. The more homes that become energy producers means we derive less energy from petroleum or coal. There is a tremendous amount of surface area on our roofs. This should be mandatory in new home construction in my mind. The photovoltaics nowadays are very long lived and need little maintenance. Plus, it will kick start a green industry with lots of great jobs.

2. Purchase energy efficient appliances and cars. Don't buy hummers and don't buy suv's. If that makes me an elitist by saying it then so be it. Somebody must stand up and speak against the insaneness of ginormous vehicles that have no function whatsoever. Don't purchase any vehicle under 25 mpg city. This will force the automakers to build more energy efficient cars. They will get the message quickly.

3. Quit using plastic bags. Find an alternative. Plastic bags are derived from petroleum. Get in the habit of carrying reusable tote bags with you while shopping.

4. Ride your bike for trips less than five miles from home. Use those bike lanes the developers are now required to install. Plus, it's healthy and fun when you get into the habit.

I've just scratched the surface, and there are many more things we can do. You no doubt have good ideas too.

The point is that energy independence doesn't mean going back to the stone ages. It means moving forward and looking at things differently. It means putting an end to being wasteful. We can have our beloved lifestyle cake and eat it too, along with the icing while at the same time substantially reducing our need for fossil fuels. We don't have to give up freedoms, we don't have to give up liberty, we don't have to give up having fun. But, it means thinking proactively and making individual contributions to reduce consumption and switch to renewable energy. It means developing good, holistic habits. It's time to act.

Posted by: citizen4truth1 | May 2, 2010 4:57 PM | Report abuse

Hey, Shriek! Cool about the Hapless Habs scoring on the flightless birds, eh? Very, very pleased about that (we Red Wings supporters do not like them flightless birds). Of course, should the Wings meet up with the Habs in the Finals, then, well, no hard feelings, eh?

*hoping that I didn't just jinx tonight's game*

And, to put a shine on my sudden smugness, I just finished disposing of all those catalogs that fell on the floor and the rest that remained on the table. There's certainly other reading material to winnow down, but I've made a head start with my imaginary machete. Yep, smug as a bug in a rug, I say!

Posted by: -ftb- | May 2, 2010 5:06 PM | Report abuse

citizen4truth1, if you want to include natural gas in your plan's #1 and energy-efficient appliances (which I agree with -- I've purchased them), fine, but oil is a very small part of the U.S. electricity generation pie.

http://www.eia.doe.gov/cneaf/electricity/epm/table1_1.html

Crunching the 2009 numbers suggests "petroleum liquids" didn't even crack 1 percent. *shrug*

Posted by: Scottynuke | May 2, 2010 5:11 PM | Report abuse

To the boss, Jumper, ScottyNuke and other boodlers who understand the numbers and technology behind this disaster - - - my thanks. I've spent a lot of time this weekend following your posts and links. Quite an education and one of the many reasons I am glad to be in your midst.

Posted by: talitha1 | May 2, 2010 5:26 PM | Report abuse

Hey Snuke -- how's SnukeSis?

Posted by: -ftb- | May 2, 2010 5:26 PM | Report abuse

Is anyone screaming at pointing fingers at Transocean yet?

Posted by: -TBG- | May 2, 2010 5:30 PM | Report abuse

Joel's contributed to a new article on all this:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/05/02/AR2010050201748.html


I like this quote from Interior Secretary Salazar:

"Our job basically is to keep the boot on the neck of British Petroleum."

Posted by: RD_Padouk | May 2, 2010 5:41 PM | Report abuse

Good evening, all.

Reposted from last night:

"...One of the things I haven't seen mentioned much (and if we did, I flat missed it) is the pressure of water at the bottom of of the Gulf. If this stuff is rougly a mile under water, we're talking something like 2000 PSI, or one ton of pressure per square inch. Yeesh. That will require some very special equipment to operate down there. An awful lot of presure for lawyers to operate under, too."

bc

Posted by: -bc- | May 1, 2010 10:57 PM | Report abuse

I'm not saying there's nothing to be done, but this problem is something that is right at the limits of technology, and frankly will likely involve some expenditure and risk - definitely financial, probably political, and possibly personal - to resolve.

No doubt there's a lot going on behind the scenes in technology departments and labs in the goverment, military, universities, private industry all over the world to bring to bear on this disaster.

Finally: RD, a thigh guy? Ya learn something new every day.

bc

Posted by: -bc- | May 2, 2010 5:55 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for the link, RD.

I like this quote:
"'This is like doing open-heart surgery at 5,000 feet in the dark with robot-controlled submarines,' Lamar McKay, chairman and president of BP America, said on the ABC program."

Remember, this remote surgery was BP's Plan A to stop any leaks or ruptures if the blowout preventer failed to deploy automatically.

Posted by: MsJS | May 2, 2010 5:58 PM | Report abuse

I just got off the phone with my mother's dear friend who lost her husband about 10 days ago. She's such a dear person and I wish I were closer geographically to her now. Her husband was a member of (and don't hold me to this, as I'm not up on this kind of thing) the 3rd Division or 3rd Battalion in WWII. Apparently the funeral was jam packed with hundreds of people, and one of his fellow veterans came up to the casket and told her that he deserved one more salute, whereupon this kind man saluted him. I almost burst into tears when she told me this, and it took a little time for me to collect myself. What a tribute!

I told her that the mother of a friend of mine here (about her age -- late 80s) calls me her favorite illegitimate daughter, about which I couldn't be prouder. We both cracked up. She allowed that I would be her adopted daughter. I figure that one can never have enough mothers, so she's definitely one of mine. Our relationship has spanned both generations, and seems to have moved seamlessly from my being the daughter of her friend to my being directly her friend. It's very nice.

*sniff*

Posted by: -ftb- | May 2, 2010 5:59 PM | Report abuse

I'd like to think that my soon-to-be-3-year-old's solution to every boo boo is prescient for this scenario. I think Ken Salazar is thinking along the same lines.

My son, if he heard that BP has a well with a boo boo, would just tell BP to kiss it.

Posted by: steveboyington | May 2, 2010 6:01 PM | Report abuse

Now I'm not claiming to know something, but I AM willing to make a bet: $30 says Halliburton tweaked the cement formula recently. I'm guessing added fly ash or gypsum. Just bettin'.

Wonder who approves that sort of thing? Onshore it's EPA, I think. Dunno if offshore gets to submit to a different agency or none at all...

Posted by: Jumper1 | May 2, 2010 6:10 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for all your posts, Jumper1. I have a question regarding the cementing process.... what is it designed to achieve? From what I hear, it seals the annular void outside the casing set in the well. Is this process routine, to strengthen the original "seal" that deteriorates over time? Or, is it done in preparation to change the situation... like to drill more or do something that adds stress to the system? Hope this hasn't been discussed before and I missed it.

Posted by: steveboyington | May 2, 2010 6:27 PM | Report abuse

I am very grateful I've been out all day and not here when Dawny posted her "special needs" comment. Thanks to many of you for smacking her upside the head for me.

ftb, thank you for the Larsson explicaion. In return, some data:

Probably NOT 3rd Battalion, as there were lots and lots of 3rd battalions all over the place. Could be 3rd Division, which saw plenty of action, at Casablanca, Sicily, Cassino, Anzio, Rome, the Colmar Pocket, the Siegfried Line, Kaiserlautern, Nuremberg, Munich, Berchtesgaden (helping to seize Hitler's HQ there) and finally, Salzburg. Everybody knows about the Normandy invasion across the channel in the north of France, but very few people other than us specialists (with our special needs) know about the second invasion of France, called "Anvil-Dragoon," which was a major Allied landing in the south of France two months after the Normandy invasion. A-D doesn't get nearly as much attention as Normandy for a variety of reasons, but basically it involved the Allies coming up from the French southern coast to link up with all the Normandy folks. The 3rd Division took part in that "Dragoon" part of that Anvil-Dragoon landing, but alas, doesn't get the attention they deserve.

One of the 3rd Division's CO's was Maj. Gen. Lucien Truscott, who led the 3rd during the invasion of Sicily. There's a scene in "Patton" when Patton is upbraiding Truscott, and Truscott tells Patton he can have his command any damn time Patton wants to relieve him. (He didn't, because Truscott's 3rd was widely held to be the best-trained, best-led division in the 7th Army. Truscott led them at the invasions of Anzio and Salerno.

Or (and I think this more likely), 3rd Army, which was General Patton's bunch, who pulled out of the line and raced to the rescue of Bastogne. To have been a vet of Patton's 3rd Army is VERY impressive, though being a vet of Truscott's 3rd Division is as well.

Either way, sorry to see him go. And either way, he probably had a bellyful of Patton.

Posted by: Curmudgeon5 | May 2, 2010 6:59 PM | Report abuse

TBG - good point about Transocean. The comments of the BP official about the "contracted platform" hint at this. Of course, Transocean might point to a subcontractor, who will point to a sub-subcontractor, until we get to that one guy Ralph. He's the one who always mucks stuff up.

Of course, I am sure that this will all be *extensively* discussed in the lengthy post-disaster hearings.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | May 2, 2010 7:30 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, Mudge and Rd. All I could say was that I was one. Count me. A sort of Census move.

Posted by: CollegeQuaParkian1 | May 2, 2010 7:59 PM | Report abuse

BTW - here are the President's comments today via that www.deepwaterhorizonresponse.com website Joel pointed out.

http://www.deepwaterhorizonresponse.com/go/doc/2931/536727/

Posted by: RD_Padouk | May 2, 2010 8:00 PM | Report abuse

New Foyle's War on PBS next.

Posted by: DNA_Girl | May 2, 2010 8:55 PM | Report abuse

When a hole is drilled it is basically a hole in the rock once the drill is removed. Steel pipe is lowered in. Then cement grout is pumped down through a smaller pipe which has its end near the bottom of the hole. The cement goes outside the casing and seals the pipe casing to the rock.

Only later is the strata of rock holding the hydrocarbons perforated with special tools to allow the oil or gas to flow in. This had not occurred in this well; it was to happen later.

Prior to that, the cement job probably would have had a "bond log" run, a sophisticated sonic test measuring the acoustical coupling of the cement/pipe bond and the cement/rock bond, conducted from electronic tools lowered on long cables by companies such as Schlumberger (or Dresser Industries, now a division of Halliburton). That or the leakage itself would have told BP to re-cement the casing, using some drawn out remedial techniques.

How does the oil get into the production casing if it's sealed behind the casing?
It is called perforation and it's carefully controlled holes poked in the sides only where oil or gas actually is. It occurs later. (that part was my other specialty; I had two separate careers in Texas. One in monitoring drilling, the other on well completion working for Dresser and similar company.)

The hole should have been solidly sealed at the time of the accident. Cementing was supposedly complete.

Posted by: Jumper1 | May 2, 2010 8:58 PM | Report abuse

Here's a link; Google can add a lot to this. "Oil well completion" is the key phrase.
http://www.naturalgas.org/naturalgas/well_completion.asp

Here's something about "what we could do" and note the boat goes to only 2000 ft. however, ROVs come with the baby.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USS_Jimmy_Carter_%28SSN-23%29

Posted by: Jumper1 | May 2, 2010 9:01 PM | Report abuse

I'm sorry I didnt answer Steve. Without casing, oil or gas could decide to simply flow from a high pressure zone into a lower pressure zone (this has happened in the old days and not-so-old days). Or sometimes casing is set when the well is intended to go deeper, this is so drilling mud doesn't vanish in a low-pressure rock formation. Sometimes you are trying to put heavy mud in a hole to control a high-pressure formation and it's vanishing into a low-pressure formation. This is dangerous, you need that mud column exerting force where you need it, not disappearing somewhere else in the hole. This is why, incidentally, I created, years ago, the expression "I don't want to go there" when referring to this exact situation. Apparently the expression became popular elsewhere.

Posted by: Jumper1 | May 2, 2010 9:08 PM | Report abuse

How many (or any) of Transoceans' BOPs ever worked to contain a well head blowout?

Posted by: theSeaHawk | May 2, 2010 9:14 PM | Report abuse

Here is a question about the dome/cover fix that I guess is in the works: you don't have to seal the bottom, right? If the floor is uneven, it seems it would be difficult to get a seal. Is the idea just to catch the oil (lighter than water... so it will fill the top of the dome first) and pump it out from the top in a controlled way to keep it from escaping? An inverse sump pump?

Posted by: steveboyington | May 2, 2010 9:43 PM | Report abuse

Even though I'm loath to admit it, I loathe it when people use "loathe" where they meant "loath". (I started to say I loathe those people, but of course that's not true. Loathe the sin, love the sinner.)

Posted by: Bob-S | May 2, 2010 10:49 PM | Report abuse

Well, Bob, it's twice as good to be passionate about the word loath than it is to be pale and anemic about it. Or in other words, "Two loaths are better than wan."

'Night, my Boodle.

Posted by: Curmudgeon5 | May 2, 2010 11:03 PM | Report abuse

Loafs, especially fresh made bread of King Arthur flour, are nice.

Loafers can be comfy-preppy and feature shiny pennies.

Loafers, as people, are my most unfavorites.

Posted by: CollegeQuaParkian1 | May 2, 2010 11:16 PM | Report abuse

http://www.skytruth.org/

SkyTruth is providing annotated satellite imagery and other material. Looks as though some oil may have entered the Loop Current already.

Loop Current forecast looks reasonably good:
http://polar.ncep.noaa.gov/ofs/viewer.shtml?-gulfmex-cur-0-large-rundate=latest

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | May 2, 2010 11:17 PM | Report abuse

I'm loath to use words when I'm not sure I know the correct meaning. I loathe when I discover I've done just that

How'd I do?

Posted by: omni3 | May 2, 2010 11:20 PM | Report abuse

And a hand in the bush is worth two birds.

Posted by: Jumper1 | May 2, 2010 11:24 PM | Report abuse

It's just like how I'm always confusing 'loofah' with 'falafel.'

Posted by: yellojkt | May 2, 2010 11:25 PM | Report abuse

I fear those loatheing sinners are from Las Vegas

Posted by: DNA_Girl | May 2, 2010 11:29 PM | Report abuse

Night all.

A Loaf of Poetry
by Naoshi Koriyama

you mix
the dough
of experience
with
the yeast
of inspiration
and knead it well
with love
and pound it
with all your might
and then
leave it
until
it puffs out big
with its own inner force
and then
knead it again
and
shape it
into a round form
and bake it
in the oven
of your heart

Posted by: CollegeQuaParkian1 | May 2, 2010 11:29 PM | Report abuse

Oh, I see, that's simply a misplaced 'e'. it belonged on the end of hurrican. teehee

Posted by: omni3 | May 2, 2010 11:33 PM | Report abuse

And, Fitzgerald's translation of the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam

Here with a Loaf of Bread beneath the Bough,
A Flask of Wine, a Book of Verse - and Thou
Beside me singing in the Wilderness -
And Wilderness is Paradise enow.

---
Fitzgerald said of his translation that he engaged ing "transmogrification"; a term made popular by Calvin and Hobbes....to bed to dream about the oil slick...sigh....

Posted by: CollegeQuaParkian1 | May 2, 2010 11:34 PM | Report abuse

Jumper1 Thanks you so much for the excellent description of what happened. I spent my teen summers in a Venezuelan oil camp in the 60's. My "other father" was C.R Cunningham, head of drilling for Creole Petroleum. Thanks for the update. I am a lurker on this blog and quite clearly you are no memeber of a "special needs" group. Which is not to say your needs are not special.

Posted by: chloebug | May 2, 2010 11:54 PM | Report abuse

My second short isn't going anything like I planned or thought. Took on a life of it's own and I can't say I'm liking it where it's at right now. The fact this is a kids story means the queen can't die ... right.stupid.idea. now it's got ponies and horses and neither are advancing the plot........carp

In better news I got a second review of Igoom:

"quite interesting. I felt curious about what will happen while i was reading and it had a happy ending."

Still waiting for someone to read it to a kid at bedtime


Am off to bed

Posted by: omni3 | May 3, 2010 2:34 AM | Report abuse

Not much to say other than good morning!

Well, not a great morning at all--another work day. It would be a good time to make some coffee, no?

Bless us all that we may be productive and wise, today.

Posted by: russianthistle | May 3, 2010 6:15 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, all, and happy Monday. Hi Cassandra! It's Mr. T's birthday and rain is on the way.

I hope there is progress on stopping the spill in the Gulf. North Carolina just approved offshore drilling and there is concern that oil in the loop current will reach NC beaches.

Busy day ahead, so I'd better get on with it.

Posted by: slyness | May 3, 2010 6:51 AM | Report abuse

God loves us so much more than we can imagine through Him that died for all, Jesus Christ.

Morning, friends. I am most certainly a "special needs" commentator in every way. Not backing down from it, owning it big time. You hit the nail on the head with me, Dawny. Now where do we go from there? Outside?


Slyness, it has fooled us every day down this way because we keep expecting rain, and it's a no show. All the trappings, without the water.

It is just a frightening mess, this oil spill, and I do hope they can get a handle on it. It is certainly going to impact a lot of economies in the coastal regions and perhaps even further. We're still trying to recoup from economic woes and now this. I have to confess. I'm guilty. I buy their gas.*sigh*

Some folks are just desperate to plaster something on Obama. I believe President Obama is one of the hardest working people I know, and considering all the forces against him, I think he does more than well.

Have a great Monday, folks(if that's possible)and love to all.

Posted by: cmyth4u | May 3, 2010 7:18 AM | Report abuse

*doing a passable impression of a Chesapeake retriever shaking off excess water after a long swim*

Funky out there, but better in some ways than yesterday's sweatbox.

Ah, Jumper -- Well logging and its associated technology. What a happy subject for some Boodlers... *not-quite-sane titter* :-)

*trying-to-cram-several-days-of-work-into-today-due-to-a-business-trip-on-the-immediate-horizon Grover waves* :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | May 3, 2010 7:50 AM | Report abuse

'morning all. A very good article by the boss and Kornblut on the oil release. As usual, he doesn't take his readers for idiots.

Just as I take the day off today to do some much needed yard work a monsoon breaks out. *sigh*

Some theorize that the New York loser bomber (what kind of bomb was that????) might have been targeting Viacom for South Park's transgressions. Unbelievable.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | May 3, 2010 8:03 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, we got a good soaking last night, much needed, now it is sunny and everything is fresh and clean. Really lovely out and I will be working outside today - wonderful. Puttered in the gardens on the weekend and cut the lawn, but it was so muggy I was moving slowly - the humidity is always a shock to the system after winter.

The oil spill makes me ill, so much fragile ecosystem along the Louisiana shore (and west through Alabama and the Florida panhandle).

Posted by: dmd3 | May 3, 2010 8:21 AM | Report abuse

DMD,

My gardening heart is thrilled at our slow drip of the day. BUT, as a bike-commuter....not so much.

As a special needs commenTOR, I salute us all.

And, I am so grateful for my friends here who serve up knowledge (JUMPER! You THE MAN), humor, and kindness in gracious and generous proportions.

Posted by: CollegeQuaParkian1 | May 3, 2010 8:42 AM | Report abuse

The car was left on 45th right by the Viacom Building which also houses MTV. Theaters in the general area include the Booth Theater showing 'Next To Normal', a toe-tapping rock musical about bipolar disorder and the Marriott Marquis showing 'Fly Me Away', a Twyla Tharpe tribute to Frank Sinatra.

Video camera footage of Schubert Alley caught somebody taking off a shirt with a tee shirt underneath and stuffing it into a backpack.

I'm just astounded anybody found an open parking space on 45th Street an hour and a half before the Saturday night curtain. My guess is that Viacom in particular was not targeted and that that was just the first place the bomber found to ditch the car.

It is waaaaay to early to discuss motivation when we have no idea who did or what help he had.

Posted by: yellojkt | May 3, 2010 8:48 AM | Report abuse

Saturday I saw the matinee of 'Promises, Promises' which is way up on 52nd Street next to the Ed Sullivan Theater, home of The Late Show. We had avoided Times Square by going from our lunch at db Bistro moderne (pricey but delicious, and no, I did not get the foie gras hamburger) up Avenue Of The Americas to 52nd.

After the show I was toying with wandering back to Duffy Square to see what evening shows were on the board, but Kristin Chenoweth took so long deigning to come out to sign autographs that we had to hustle to make our 6 p.m. dinner reservations at 61st and Park, quite a walk for a half hour.

Yesterday morning my morbid curiousity got to me and I did walk up to Times Square but the only evidence of any excitement the previous night was some TV reporters fighting for stand-up space at 47th. Otherwise everything was business as usual as it should be.

So there is an eerie 'but for the grace of God' feel to the event since I have spent a lot of time at or near the very spot the dud car bomb was. And I'm going back this weekend for 'American Idiot' at the St. James on 44th Street. And I won't be dissuaded. Otherwise the terrorists have won.

Posted by: yellojkt | May 3, 2010 9:04 AM | Report abuse

Rained here overnight as well, dmd. But we still have lingering showers which will, I hope, clear by noonish. Very muggy here too.

I am feeling curmudgeonly about the water crisis in metro Boston. Apparently bottled water is going like hotcakes and people are acting like they do when there's a snowstorm coming. I understand needing some water to drink, but for all other purposes they can boil what comes out of the faucet and if they don't own a dishwasher, they can add a bit of bleach to the rinse water. It is safe to shower and flush. I keep thinking about all those empty plastic bottles ending up in the ocean. That, along with the oil gushing out in the gulf, is making me depressed.

Posted by: badsneakers | May 3, 2010 9:07 AM | Report abuse

Gainesville Sun this morning has a story on local discontent over the tourist-attraction management at state-owned Silver Springs.
http://www.gainesville.com/article/20100503/ARTICLES/100509919/1118?p=all&tc=pgall

Reminds me vaguely of issues over Glen Echo Park, some time ago.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | May 3, 2010 10:02 AM | Report abuse

All I need from today's Borowitz Report was the headline and deck to make me laugh out loud:

"Greece Offers to Repay Loans with Giant Horse"

"Steed Wheeled Into Brussels at Night"

and here's the body copy:

"In what many are hailing as a breakthrough solution to Greece’s crippling debt crisis, Greece today offered to repay loans from the European Union nations by giving them a gigantic horse.

Finance ministers from sixteen EU nations awoke in Brussels this morning to find that a huge wooden horse had been wheeled into the city center overnight.

The horse, measuring several stories in height, drew mixed responses from the finance ministers, many of whom said they would have preferred a cash repayment of the EU’s bailout.

But German Chancellor Andrea Merkel said she “welcomed the beautiful wooden horse,” adding, “What harm could it possibly do?”

Elsewhere, two days after the White House Correspondents’ Dinner, the Pakistani Taliban took responsibility for Jay Leno’s act."

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | May 3, 2010 10:09 AM | Report abuse

We haven't had any quizzes in a while:

http://mentalfloss.com/quiz/quiz.php?q=947

4/11 for me. Take away my Sorkin Fan Club Decoder Ring.

Posted by: yellojkt | May 3, 2010 10:09 AM | Report abuse

I often give people the benefit of the doubt, knowing that complex technical problems are never as cut and dried as we seem to think, but I despair sometimes of large corporations. An article in our local paper today described that oil companies were soon to make their pitch to a Canadian federal agency to relax regulations for drilling in the Beaufort sea. Apparently sea ice will prevent drilling operations in winter, so they mandate a precautionary relief well being dug along with the main one. The idea being that waiting for the sea ice to clear in case of a disater was not acceptable. The oil companies wanted to eliminate this regulation because they already have blowout valves...

I wonder how much headway they will make.

Posted by: qgaliana | May 3, 2010 10:20 AM | Report abuse

DotC,
I get my old-timey Florida tourist attractions mixed up. Tell me if I'm wrong or which of these have closed shop:

Silver Springs: Glass bottom boats
Weeki-Wachi: Mermaids
Cypress Gardens: Water-skiing pyramids
Marineland (St. Augustine): Dolphin show
Monkey Jungle: Monkeys
Busch Gardens: Beer and parrot show
Gatorland: Semi-pro football

Posted by: yellojkt | May 3, 2010 10:26 AM | Report abuse

New Kit!

There, now I can mudge myself.

Posted by: yellojkt | May 3, 2010 10:44 AM | Report abuse

This may be the third time in a row I've been doing this, BUT ....

NEW KIT!

Gitcherselvesoverthere!

Posted by: -ftb- | May 3, 2010 10:45 AM | Report abuse

Yikes, that was one tough quiz. I got 7 out of 11, but I frankly confess four of those seven were educated-by-elimination guesses. Never heard of Ron Swanson, whoever the he11 he is.

'Morning, Boodle.

I've got to throw yet another flag on the online copy desk for its use of the word "fatal" on Milbank's column: "Obama's fatal flinch on immigration reform" on the page itself and "Milbank: Obama's fatal flinch" in the Opion column head. Milbank himself never once uses the word "fatal" in his column, nor is there any approximate term. He doesn't like Obama's 180 on immigration, and he can talk about that until he's blue in the face. But where in he11 does the headline writer get off injecting something into a column that isn't there?

*sigh*

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | May 3, 2010 10:50 AM | Report abuse

WTF? The liberal media is now making excuses for why Obama completely failed to address the situation for 12 days.

THERE IS NO EXCUSE. WE HAVE HAD A PLAN IN PLACE SINCE 1994 - YOU FREAK.

Posted by: joesmithdefend | May 3, 2010 7:11 PM | Report abuse

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