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Gulf oil spill imperils Justin Bieber

Sorry, I had to stick Justin Bieber in the headline after reading, on my flight to Louisiana, a long article in the Times magazine, "Putting a Price On Words" by Andrew Rice, that made me want to consider taking the cyanide pill that any journalist on assignment carries in case of capture by the enemy. The story basically says that the way to get traffic online is to let advertisers and/or search engines dictate the content, which ideally should be heavily layered in celebrity gossip and soft porn.

Back to the oil spill: I'm in Galliano, La., as we speak, and I can report that the situation is ominous. There's some good news from BP, of course, which is that the riser insertion tool has started capturing some of the leaking oil. But it's unclear how much is still leaking -- BP is being vague, telling us only that a "substantial" amount is still leaking. That process, if it keeps working, will be ramped up, and more oil and gas will be carried to the surface.

But it would be nice to see some more video. Why is BP so squeamish about showing us what's going on? We've gotten two brief clips, now well more than a week old. Why can't we see what's going on? Bill Nelson (Florida senator) has demanded that BP come to a hearing tomorrow with video in hand. If the federal government is, in fact, sharing the command of this emergency response, and it has full access to the video - as Rear Admiral Mary Landry has claimed -- why can't the government provide it?

The people have a right to know! Dontcha think?

Because a huge unknown is: How much oil is already in the water? The Official Guesstimate is 5,000 barrels a day, which was issued weeks ago and never updated and is a suspiciously round number that I'm guessing was produced after a show of hands. I don't take seriously the 70,000 barrel estimate that NPR reported the other day: That's a number from a propeller-head who seemed to have a magic software program that no one else had, and who did not, as far as I can tell, correct for the fact that there's a mixture of oil, gas, water and sediment coming out of the pipe.

What I'm hearing this morning is that BP is pulling up 1,000 barrels a day with the new pipe. In theory, if they capture most of the oil leaking from the riser (there's a much smaller, second leak), we should be able to come up with a more accurate estimate of what's flowing out of the well. If, as BP has repeatedly insisted, the blowout preventer is partially constraining the flow, there's no way it can be anything like 70,000 barrels a day.

But it would be easier to get a handle on it if BP would let us see what's going on. Or if the government would do the same.

Instead, everyone here in Lousiana can only imagine how much oil is lurking off the coast, destination unknown.


I've been scrambling a bit and didn't get a chance to post the story I wrote this weekend on the life beneath the sea in the Gulf of Mexico. Excerpt:

In total darkness at the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico lives a creature with many scuttling legs and two wiggling antennae that jut from a pinched, space-alien face. It is the isopod, Bathynomus giganteus, a scavenger of dead and rotten flesh on the mud floor of the gulf.

"If you think of a giant roach, put it on steroids," said Thomas Shirley, a marine biologist at Texas A&M University. "They can be scary big."

There is beauty in the lightless deep as well. Fan corals, lacylike doilies, form gardens on the seafloor and on sunken ships. The deep is full of crabs, sponges, sea anemones. Sharks hunt in the dark depths, as do sperm whales that feed on giant squid. The sperm whales have formed a year-round colony near the mouth of the Mississippi River, and have been known to rub themselves on oil pipes just like grizzlies rubbing against pine trees.

This is the unseen world imperiled by the uncapped oil well a mile below the surface of the gulf. The millions of gallons of crude, and the introduction of chemicals to disperse it, have thrown this underwater ecosystem into chaos, and scientists have no answer to the question of how this unintended and uncontrolled experiment in marine biology and chemistry will ultimately play out.

The leaking gulf well, drilled by the now-sunken rig Deepwater Horizon, has cast a light on a part of the planet usually out of sight, out of mind, below the horizon, and beyond our ken. The well is surrounded by a complex ecosystem that only in recent years has been explored by scientists. Between the uncapped well and the surface is a mile of water that riots with life, and now contains a vast cloud of oil, gas and chemical dispersants and long, dense columns of clotted crude.

"Everybody fixates on the picture of the cormorant or the bird flailing around all covered with oil, and while that's obviously sad to see, no one should assume there's not similar things occurring in the open ocean," said Andy Bowen, an oceanographer at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts. "It's not like the open ocean is irrelevant."

More is known about the surface of the moon than about the world at the bottom of the sea. Scientists long ago clung to the "azoic hypothesis" about the deep -- the presumption that nothing could possibly be alive so far from the photosynthetic world.

Gradually that belief succumbed to living proof to the contrary. Life finds a way. Instead of photosynthesis, there is chemosynthesis. Organic matter rains into the depths from higher in the water column. Oil itself is a part of this mysterious universe, leaking naturally from the seafloor. It is testament to life's ingenuity that for some bacteria, oil is food.

Click here to keep reading.

By Joel Achenbach  |  May 17, 2010; 7:38 AM ET
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Next: Faces of the gulf oil spill



MMS and Massachusetts

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar is due to appear May 18 , 2010, for several Senate hearings this Tuesday. Many lawmakers are looking forward to examine the leadership of the Minerals Management Service. The Interior Department is charged with enforcing environmental and safety rules for energy exploration.

On April 28.2010 Ken Salazar announced his decision at a joint Massachusetts State House news conference with Gov. Deval Patrick voting to go forward with the Nantucket, Massachusetts wind turbine project. The same day of this decision more than 5000 barrels of oil had poured into the Gulf of Mexico. (one barrel equals 42 gallons ) .

In 2008 an internal investigation it was found many at Minerals Management Services were involved with substance abuse. It was stated that workers accepted gifts and trips.

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar has decided to make a decision on the Nantucket ocean wind project himself. The decision was to go forward with the first ocean wind project the very day of the Gulf oil spill!

Secretary Salazar has now decided to split the MMS into two agencies on the heels of going forward with the wind turbine project. We have to all question the regulatory breakdowns happening at the Minerals Management.

Every resident of Massachusetts should question the judgment of the Mineral Management Service ocean wind turbine decision before any more projects approved by MMS go forward! Did the MMS since 2009 put to much emphasis on wind and other renewable energy sources?

Posted by: fnhaggerty | May 17, 2010 8:43 AM | Report abuse

Hmm. I wonder, perhaps, if we need to get some detailed reactions from people like, say Elizabeth Kuchinich.

Just a thought.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | May 17, 2010 8:44 AM | Report abuse

Regarding a lack of access to the video, I guess there are several possible explanations. On the one hand, there is the excuse that BP is simply *so* busy solving this problem that they have no time for such silly things as satiating our morbid curiosity. But I find this unpersuasive because BP most certainly has a large cadre of public relations people and the like.

A more cynical interpretation is that BP doesn't want to release video for the same reason that surgeons aren't too keen on having their procedures videotaped - liability. Nothing highlights mistakes like moving pictures.

But, again like with surgery, there is a lot of anxiety here in the waiting room. It's hard to relax and trust in the highly-paid professionals. We want to know what's happening, dagnabit.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | May 17, 2010 8:56 AM | Report abuse

And, as I mentioned earlier, I really like that article, not the least of which because of the visceral thrills one gets from learning about Bathynomus giganteu.

I am concerned, though, that the bit about naturally occurring oil might be misconstrued. Certainly, if one wanders into the mucky wasteland of the comments, some seem to be viewing this as an implication that the oil spill is no big deal. Which, of course, runs counter to the whole thrust of the article.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | May 17, 2010 9:04 AM | Report abuse

Some of BP's reluctance may stem from the simple, first-reaction corporate preference to keep pretty much everything secret. Proprietary. The idea usually is, a corporation is responsible for something and/or owns it, and can control access to the information. Thus, I suspect, the early appearance of corporate legal teams trying to corral and muffle the witnesses and survivors. Nothing personal, it is just business.

Significant differences here make this the wrong model for information-sharing. First, BP "owns" the problem, is liable for it, and is leading the expert & techie charge to fix it, but is doing so under close attention of the government. Second, the oil spill now affects the entire Gulf, deepwater and shore, and may well soon affect other waters. This includes marine & wildlife and scary ocean bugs, and has huge economic implications for states. BP doesn't "own" those problems and has no right to be secretive concerning them.

BP has entered a realm where corproate interests in protecting information are secondary at best. Transparent communication is necessary. I cannot understand why the gummint has given BP a pass on this for so long during this event. What is BP going to do, refuse to fix the leak if they have to release video and other information? That won't work well for them.

Posted by: Ivansmom | May 17, 2010 9:11 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, y'all.

Warm muffins, coffee and OJ on the table.

At this point BP has little to gain by making any videos public. In a sense, the gummint doesn't either, for it will be blamed for not being forceful enough with BP and their ilk.

So some enterprising hacker is gonna have to get them from what ever section of cyberspace they now reside.

Posted by: MsJS | May 17, 2010 9:12 AM | Report abuse

I think that the Bathynomus giganteu looks like a giant version of those creatures that live in our mattresses and I don't like to think about them!

Off to play tennis on a gorgeous morning.

Posted by: badsneakers | May 17, 2010 9:13 AM | Report abuse

Joel, the marine life article was very fine. Thanks to all who posted links to pictures of the bathynomus giganteu in the last Kit. The Boy and I were suitably impressed. That's a scary ocean bug.

Posted by: Ivansmom | May 17, 2010 9:14 AM | Report abuse

Well, we've already seen reporting where experts disagree wildly on whether video provides any relevant information for determining the leak rate. Let's make up our minds -- do we want people focusing on solving the problem, or do we demand our curiosity be satiated? The info starts with the tech people, so it matters hardly at all how many PR folks BP has.

Posted by: Scottynuke | May 17, 2010 9:19 AM | Report abuse

It's not an either/or thing. You can solve the problem AND let us know what is going on. What is looking like a wildly low estimate of the leak rate is going to be confirmed or refuted as the amount of oil from the 'straw' is measured. I suspect this information is being withheld because it would be embarrassing to release regardless of whether the total amount being captured is insignificant or gargantuan.

In some ways I agree that the size of the leak is irrelevant since a leak is a leak, but sooner or later we need real measurements.

I ranted a boodle or two ago that the mainstream media has no independent news gathering capability on this disaster and that they are relying on spoon-fed press releases from people with vested interests.

Sending Joel to Louisiana is a start, but until he has his own Trieste (a dated reference which shows how old I am), he can't visit the site and review the size and scope of the problem himself.

Posted by: yellojkt | May 17, 2010 9:44 AM | Report abuse

Solving technical problems, no matter how complex, and providing updates are not mutually exclusive. And it isn't some concern for the public good that dictates this, it is often mandated from supervisors. You might tell some reporter that you are too busy solving problems to provide timely updates, but you don't do this to your boss.

I would put money on the fact that key decision makers in BP management are keenly aware of exactly what is going on. These managers, I assert, are the people who, for various reasons, aren't sharing information.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | May 17, 2010 9:45 AM | Report abuse

I think the information issue is only partly about satisfying public curiosity as to what's going on down there. Sure, the collective we would like to know, even though we most of us have no real ability to either interpret any pictures or devise workable solutions to the problem. We ask for pictures because we can see pictures and feel like we've gained a clearer understanding of what's happening, even if we haven't. Visual depictions are, in our minds, the most accessible form of information.

There's a larger and more important subtext behind the desire for information. Where there is no public information disseminated, the perception is that something is going wrong, womething is not being shared which should be known, wrongdoing is occurring or being condoned. This is an important perception. While it is not always accurate there is enough of a track record, across many different types of events and occasions, to cause concern.

As a people we tend to believe that there should not be secrets about matters of public concern which will affect us. This is particularly true where, as here, the government has become involved, even if that involvement is after the fact. As I said above, there are reasons for BP and the government to pony up with substantive news. This is a national environmental and economic disaster, not a corporate setback. The public demand for information recognizes that.

Posted by: Ivansmom | May 17, 2010 9:48 AM | Report abuse

In other news, I am relieved to report that once again we escaped the baseball-sized hail which ravaged so much of town yesterday afternoon. We had mostly quarter-size hail, with some golf-ball size thrown in. Nothing broken at our house that I know of, though I haven't inspected the shop out back yet. Many many people had cars busted up and windows and roofs destroyed. It was an amazing storm; there was heavy rain, but the hail was just as thick as rain. At times the hail crowded the rain out. It was as if there wasn't room for both hail and rain coming down, and the hail won. The ground was covered. It lasted a long time, too. Often hail will fall for a few minutes then quit. This was at least half an hour of hard hail.

Earthquakes, volcanoes, oil pouring into the sea, tornadoes, hail storms: perhaps that 2012 thing has more truth than we thought.

Posted by: Ivansmom | May 17, 2010 9:54 AM | Report abuse

BP knew exactly how much was being pumped out before the explosioin. Why would the ammount be any less than that? If anything, it's probably substantially more because the components controling the ammount coming out have been blown to pieces. This is what BP doesn't want us to figure out.

Posted by: cadego | May 17, 2010 9:55 AM | Report abuse

Flow from the "straw" can be measured, certainly, and that information can and should be shared. But why the fixation on video? What new information, exactly, would video provide us, apart from "so that's what it looks like today?"

I like JA's latest reporting with Mufson, where we learn BP is going to mud up the wellhead to stop the flow, and that the "junk shot" was always a backup plan.

Posted by: Scottynuke | May 17, 2010 9:56 AM | Report abuse

Besides, most of what we are talking about is video. Video that we know exists. Releasing more of this isn't going to inconvenience some hard-working techie.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | May 17, 2010 9:58 AM | Report abuse

Like I said before, we are all in the waiting room. As most of us know this is an unpleasant experience. Maybe we won't understand the nuances of the video. But it will make us feel better.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | May 17, 2010 10:03 AM | Report abuse

jkt, when you say Trieste, I think Risk.

Posted by: russianthistle | May 17, 2010 10:08 AM | Report abuse

When I flew to China, the inflight electronic map showed us over Yakutsk. I felt I was living a Risk game.

Posted by: yellojkt | May 17, 2010 10:13 AM | Report abuse

yes. the highlight of my entire gaming career was getting an Italian fleet into the Baltic while playing with 4 guys with 800's on SATs.

Of course, I don't know if that said more about them or me.

Posted by: russianthistle | May 17, 2010 10:21 AM | Report abuse

The poll at my house reveals the following priorities in the minds (2) of concerned citizens:

1) Stop the leak.
2) Contain the spill and protect the wildlife and shoreline, thus reducing ecological and economic impact.
3) Provide as much information (accurate, not speculative) as possible to the public.
4) Determine cause of this leak, thereby preventing another.
5) Assign blame and require due compensation to those affected, including bathynomus and his kin.
6) Hang the PR people and the lawyers.

Just kidding on #6, we think. ;)

Posted by: talitha1 | May 17, 2010 10:30 AM | Report abuse

The video probably shows how much oil is still spewing into the water past the recovery tube.

I got the impression from viewing some YouTube videos (labeled deepwater ROV) that somehow NOAA is involved in some of the video capture. I assumed they had their own observing ROV onsite. Unsure.

I find much of the video useful to picture events which are badly illustrated in many media outlets which feature diagrams bearing little resemblance to actual events. I also find the entire affair hugely educational (although of course simultaneously seeing a horrible disaster unfolding) and informing my knowledge of how to be a responsible citizen in a democracy.

Posted by: Jumper1 | May 17, 2010 10:43 AM | Report abuse

I'd be willing to bump #6 up to between #2 and #3.

Posted by: yellojkt | May 17, 2010 10:47 AM | Report abuse

I have to agree that the limited flow of information is not necessarily out of villainy, but may be simple exhaustion. Yes, the tech folks have to give updates to their bosses, but one hopes that at least some of those bosses are, themselves, somewhat technically-minded. That permits a tech guy to say something like "We're totally screwed; we've got 30k bpm and the frimmis is rip-robbed" and that could mean something to the boss, but nothing to us (actually, it means nothing to anyone past the first three words). And you can't put one of the problem-workers on TV saying "we're totally screwed."

I suspect that everyone at BP who has first-hand knowledge of this event combined with relevant expertise is 100% involved in the effort. That means that there is nobody available to be interviewed by PR and to later review the press release to ensure that what it says is accurate. You can get timely information out of BP, or you can get accurate information. You can't get both (and probably, you won't get either).

Posted by: ScienceTim | May 17, 2010 11:01 AM | Report abuse

NOAA has access to, or funds, ROVs. However, they are fairly expensive doo-dads (I expect) -- although surely less expensive than manned vehicles like Alvin -- and more important, I expect that they are scheduled in minute detail for years in advance for the benefit of independent grant-funded researchers. There probably is not a rack of them sitting in storage somewhere, waiting for a job to do.

On the other hand, there are commercial ROV builders and operators. I'm a little surprised that no one has rented out an ROV to a consortium of news-gathering organizations so that they can put their own eye on the scene.

Posted by: ScienceTim | May 17, 2010 11:06 AM | Report abuse

yello, did you happen to read the opinion piece in wapo yesterday from the lawyer who spent 21 years working on the Prince William Sound (Exxon Valdez) and Glacier Bay (BP) spills? "How to sue an oil company" by Brian O'Neill.

A couple of commenters apparently knew of his work and praised it. Litigation is only now being settled, primarily in the oil companies' and law firms' favor.

Posted by: talitha1 | May 17, 2010 11:12 AM | Report abuse

I just skimmed that one, but I did read the one about there needing to be more moms appointed to judicial positions.

We know of one midwest mom that would be eligible and she's even an Ivy-Leaguer. A two-fer!

Posted by: yellojkt | May 17, 2010 11:26 AM | Report abuse

I was struck by the notion that appointing Elena Kagan removes representation of mothers from the Court. So, Justice Stevens is a mom?

Posted by: ScienceTim | May 17, 2010 11:30 AM | Report abuse

Yep, I'm about to get over there and read the livechat on moms in the judiciary, specifically SCOTUS. Was hoping that would come up on the boodle. Also read the NYT magazine article that Mr.A referenced in the new kit opener. Plenty of food for thought there, but I hope Joel keeps that cyanide pill in it's sealed container for now!

Posted by: talitha1 | May 17, 2010 11:32 AM | Report abuse

Hah, SciTim! You just never know, do you?

Posted by: talitha1 | May 17, 2010 11:33 AM | Report abuse

According to Linda Holmes's Monkey See blog, the Ultimate Headline from an SEO perspective would be "Demi Lovato MP3 Free Beer."

She links to David Carr at NYT also using the Jailbait-Searchbait Gambit for hits:

Twitter has had to rejigger its trending topics algorithm to downplay the Bieber Factor. I still blame Canada.

Posted by: yellojkt | May 17, 2010 11:36 AM | Report abuse

I did the same math when I read that column. Hmmm... Given an unknown number X of moms currently: Stevens retires, Kagan in.

I couldn't find anyway that it changed the representation of moms.

Posted by: Bob-S | May 17, 2010 11:47 AM | Report abuse

Tim's comment about the information reaching the public reminded me of Robert Pirsig's explanation for the opacity of technical manuals. In "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance" Pirsig notes that he worked as a technical writer and describes the process by which the writer gets the information needed to write a manual. Basically, he goes to the factory or development lab, and whoever is in charge -- who has his own set of deadlines and priorities, which do not necessarily coincide with those of the writer -- pulls his least valuable employee off the line or out of the lab to talk to the writer. This, then, is the source of technical information: the least useful person in the department.

I imagine that something very similar is going on in terms of how information is reaching the public about the oil spill.

Posted by: rashomon | May 17, 2010 11:49 AM | Report abuse

Ginsberg is a mom of grown children, as was O'Conner when she was appointed. Gerhart noted in her piece that Ginsberg will most likely be the next to retire. That would leave SC motherless. (Now there's a phrase!)

Gerhart is holding her own on the livechat amidst some mighty hostile questioning. Can only imagine what her inbox looks like.

Posted by: talitha1 | May 17, 2010 11:54 AM | Report abuse

I think the logic is that since Kagan brings the number of women to three, Obama would be unlikely to appoint another women to replace the anticipated Ginsburg retirement, so not appointing a woman with a test-driven uterus now is a lost opportunity.

This assumes that 44% female representation on the bench is just a bridge too far. This is the opposite of Pat Buchanan's reasoning that with an anticipated 33% of the bench but only two percent of the population, Jews would be now be excessively influential on the Supreme Court. He doesn't seem to have much problem with Catholics being 67%. It all depends on whose ox is being Bush-Gored.

Posted by: yellojkt | May 17, 2010 11:55 AM | Report abuse

In defense of propeller-heads:

The "70,000 barrel" citation from NPR is incomplete. The professor's actual estimate is given as flow range 70,000 barrels +/- 20%, not of oil but of material coming out of the pipe.

This range (56,000 - 84,000) does include BP's own number of 60,000 barrels (maximum) apparently provided to Congress off-screen.

Note on flow from siphon: the 1,000 barrel per day flow rate is not full flow from that leak point. It's like a car being gradually accelerated from 0 to the speed limit - their 1,000 is at the beginning of the acceleration, which is set by how much pressure the surface ship is putting on the siphon.

Posted by: IDPH | May 17, 2010 12:08 PM | Report abuse

I'm just not buying this "too busy" defense. In any operational situation there are unavoidable delays, downtime, and managers who guide actions but are not fully engaged in executing them.

If keeping people better informed was a priority, I have no doubt that BP could squeeze some spare moments to do so.

Of course, such information might not be adequately vetted and micromanaged so as to make sure the best spin is being imposed, but, I assert, in this case the legitimate need for status updates should trump corporate damage control.

Remember, too, the biggest complaint is that the *tapes* aren't being made available. That *everyone* is too busy to release the tapes doesn't seem credible. Too worried about the repercussions of giving out the tapes seems more plausible to me.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | May 17, 2010 12:09 PM | Report abuse

That poor ox may never die, just lay bleeding in the dust of the public arena for generations to come.

Posted by: talitha1 | May 17, 2010 12:12 PM | Report abuse

I haven't read the article about moms on the Court because I suspect it will annoy me, and I have enough to annoy me without seeking things out.

A narrow variety of career paths can lead to the Court. I can guarantee you that the persons credible enough to be on any real short list for Court appointment think differently enough from other people that no personal characteristic is going to play out quite the way people think it might. This is true of religious, political and parental status. While I have often and loudly said we need more women and people of color on the Court, it is also true of those characteristics.

Posted by: Ivansmom | May 17, 2010 12:13 PM | Report abuse

You are way too modest. You'd make a fantastic Supreme. What is your Supreme Court Idol call-in voting number?

Posted by: yellojkt | May 17, 2010 12:15 PM | Report abuse

*in my most whiny voice*

I wanna left-handed married disabled left-of-center midwestern woman with a dog and lots of imaginary friends nominated to SCOTUS. So there!

*back to what passes for normal*

I view the bulk of the "representation" debate as "what gets discussed in the media between the nomination and confirmation hearings because there is so little so actual substance to actually report on."

I'm all for diversity, but we're talking about NINE people here. The very fact that all nominees are smart, well educated, at least middle-aged attorneys really narrows down the diversity pool substantially.

Posted by: MsJS | May 17, 2010 12:19 PM | Report abuse

That's a wonderful observation Ivansmom. Its like any hiring situation. If you focus on any one characteristic as being most important you are setting yourself up for trouble. And when you presume to know how that particular characteristic will manifest itself, well, things get even more risky.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | May 17, 2010 12:20 PM | Report abuse

Okay, I read the article and found it annoying. Set aside my reservations about the unproven and squishy assumptions about the influence or effect of motherhood on judging generally and at the Court level specifically (gender discrimination suits excepted).

I'm in complete disagreement with this sentence from the last paragraph, apparently summing up the writer's view of characteristics of motherhood: "Much of the time, it's the opposite of being strategic and assiduously prepared."

In what motherhood universe does this woman live? Pretty much every mother I know, certainly every one who works as a professional and especially as an attorney, excels at preparation and strategic thinking. Most of us understand the necessity for flexibility in our lives and plans. However, the whole exercise of raising a child is one of guiding a person to full, functioning adulthood.

The day-to-day reality of most of our lives is all about planning for and participating in school, extracurricular activities, family activities, getting homework done, etc ad infinitum. This requires massive, almost automatic daily strategic thinking and preparation. In addition, we also take the long view - how will this activity, this school class or year, this life experience, etc., shape our child's future understanding and experience? I cannot understand an assertion that motherhood does not involve, indeed is not intimately enmeshed with, strategic thinking and preparation.

Anyone who is interested in and capable of being an effective judge, mother or not, will excel at strategic thinking and preparation. Judges think differently than other people; it is why they can impartially assess disputes. Being a mother will certainly affect one's approach to judging, but the temperament necessary for judging may also affect one's approach to motherhood.

Posted by: Ivansmom | May 17, 2010 12:30 PM | Report abuse

What I think would be more helpful than worrying about the characteristics of each Justice would be having each of them select a mascot.

Who should be the giant isopod?

Posted by: Bob-S | May 17, 2010 12:32 PM | Report abuse

Very nice, Bob S. On the current Court I immediately thought Scalia might enjoy the giant isopod.

Thanks for yello's kind words; if they ever release that Supremes Idol competition number I'll let you know. I'm thinking some kind of giant lizard for my mascot, but I'm also tempted by the thought of bears. The Court needs more bears.

Posted by: Ivansmom | May 17, 2010 12:47 PM | Report abuse

I'm just glad it's Obama making the appointments and not McCain. Moose-hunting mamas would certainly be no improvement, whatever their mascots might be.

Posted by: talitha1 | May 17, 2010 1:11 PM | Report abuse

First of all that propeller heads method is not some secret method with software that only he had.

The technique is over 20 years old and after he bravely came forward, dozens of other scientests have came forward with estimates from 30,000 to 100,000 barrels plus.

Now as far as your comment about the siphon working = 5,000 bpd it is absolutely wrong.

Estimates where the syphon would only relieve 5-15% of the amount coming from the spill. Remember there is a another leak.

On top of that, the amount that they are pumping is no where near full capacity of what can be pumped. Have you not been reading the headlines "limited success" and that bp plans on increasing the amount over time?

So given there best case of 15% given that 1,000 bpd are being syphoned ramping up the amount being sucked being only small percentage of what is capable we are still looking at way over 1,000 bpd.

Posted by: alexhiggins732 | May 17, 2010 1:27 PM | Report abuse

I'm with ya, Ivansmom!

Condolences to Yoki and all my Québec and Montréal amis for yesterday's debacle. I mean, only one team actually showed up! Let's hope the Habs get their act together for the next game.

*geez, do I hafta be the coach, too?*

Congrats, MsJS, 'cause yer team won.

I think I'll go do some work now.

Posted by: -ftb- | May 17, 2010 1:40 PM | Report abuse

And the first head rolls...

Posted by: Scottynuke | May 17, 2010 2:16 PM | Report abuse

Anyone else think the Boodle influenced this list just a bit?

I mean, a chef and an uber-geek scientist wannabe top the list. Total Boodle-osity! *L*

Posted by: Scottynuke | May 17, 2010 2:28 PM | Report abuse

Scotty, would you run a check for me and see if the following Boodle handles are still available?


Let me know if we start experiencing a run on new Boodle handles along those lines. Thanks.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | May 17, 2010 2:32 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Oynes, he who owns the first head to roll, is a lawyer with 30 years in gummint on various energy related matters.

So he'll retire with a nice gummint pension.

Posted by: MsJS | May 17, 2010 2:33 PM | Report abuse

They all seem fine, 'Mudge...

TarredFeatheredLubedOiledAndNowOutofWork is a close call, but the "AndNowOutOfWork" modifier saves it.

Posted by: Scottynuke | May 17, 2010 2:36 PM | Report abuse

One aspect of the BP lack of transparency is the special and constructed "thingie" that is a modern corporation, typically noted in legal/tax settings as a C Corporation.

Corporations have a status very much like persons. And, the corporation forms a "distancing" wall between people who run the entity and the consequences of their actions. Corporations can be sued, but not the people associated with them.

Also, corporations operate under ONE NORM -- make money for shareholders.

Searching for an interesting article on corporations and the right to facto right...but not at that computer, this moment.

Posted by: CollegeQuaParkian1 | May 17, 2010 2:59 PM | Report abuse

On a lighter note, Scotty's link to the Celebritology Muppet story was most welcome. Can't believe it's been 20 years since Henson's death. I actually sank down and cried when I heard that news.

btw, I noticed a certain familiar vespula buzzing by in the comments to the Muppet story. ;)

Posted by: talitha1 | May 17, 2010 3:01 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for that Muppet link. Such comforting memories. Beaker is cool, but Bunsen Honeydew was my favorite.

I so much wanted to work at Muppet Labs when I grew up.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | May 17, 2010 3:03 PM | Report abuse

this is interesting. experiments done with the particle accelerator at Fermilab have consistently produced more muopns than antimuons. Scientists are citing this as evidence that may explain why we exist.

Posted by: -jack- | May 17, 2010 3:04 PM | Report abuse

SCC: muons

Posted by: -jack- | May 17, 2010 3:05 PM | Report abuse

On wrecking the ocean

Posted by: Jumper1 | May 17, 2010 3:07 PM | Report abuse

talitha - for years I couldn't listen to the Rainbow Connection.

Muppets represent so many good things for me.

Not the least of which is that I once really impressed a young lady of my acquaintance by scoring for her the complete set of 4 "Great Muppet Caper" promotional glasses when I worked at McDonald's.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | May 17, 2010 3:11 PM | Report abuse

I always liked Waldorf's and Astoria's comments from the balcony myself.

RD, I worked at a McD's too, though before the era of innumerable movie tie-ins.

Posted by: MsJS | May 17, 2010 3:22 PM | Report abuse

Just a quick thought about video from the DWH wells, wreckage, etc.

Could this possibly be considered a crime scene. Both with and without loss of 11 human lives involved (not to mention the environmental damage)?

Would releasing lots of video have some effects on the selection of juries (grand or otherwise)? I'm sure there are legal pros and cons to releasing video and possible ramifications thereof.

I'd be interested in hearing the Boodle legal contingent comment on that...

yello, I've made a few Trieste references in the Boodle in the past, too. I'm with ya, dude.

jack, I gotta check that muon item out. Asymmetries that go back to the Big Bang, er, *matter* to me.


Posted by: -bc- | May 17, 2010 3:28 PM | Report abuse

Here the Joel Achenbach Solution is pondered at the end of the goo & relevant current update.

Posted by: Jumper1 | May 17, 2010 3:29 PM | Report abuse

Astoria??? Statler would be so irritated.


*busily thumbing through dictionary, and highly suspicious I'm in the company of a veteran crossword puzzle expert..."

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | May 17, 2010 3:30 PM | Report abuse

I keep pointing out to my children that when *I* worked at McDonald's the only things you got in Happy Meals were little Ronald McDonald hand puppets.

They don't believe me.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | May 17, 2010 3:31 PM | Report abuse

Well, bc, I do think liability concerns are involved.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | May 17, 2010 3:33 PM | Report abuse

I always thought a vespula was a really hot Italian sportscar.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | May 17, 2010 3:34 PM | Report abuse


Thanks, jack. And I like the crime-scene video idea, bc.

Posted by: Jumper1 | May 17, 2010 3:36 PM | Report abuse

Wouldn't there need to be a crime before it becomes a crime scene?

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | May 17, 2010 3:40 PM | Report abuse

Sorry, senior moments come more and more frequently these days.

I thought the Vespula was one of those famous Renaissance sculptures.

Good thought about the potential crime evidence, bc.

Posted by: MsJS | May 17, 2010 3:44 PM | Report abuse

Mudge, veteran crossword puzzlers should never be suspicious . . . only inquisitive.

My sister still has her original Rowlf, a key Muppet as opposed to peripheral. She was 7 or 8 when Henson introduced Rowlf. Sister carves/costumes extraordinary marionettes, btw, so Muppet influence runs thick in our family.

Posted by: talitha1 | May 17, 2010 3:44 PM | Report abuse


Facebook stuff is back on my WaPo home page....and I disabled the network news stuff TWICE just now....ACKKKKKKKKK

Posted by: CollegeQuaParkian1 | May 17, 2010 3:49 PM | Report abuse


You can't escape fb's clutches, CqP. They've got you where they want you. Bwwwhahahaha!

Posted by: MsJS | May 17, 2010 3:55 PM | Report abuse

Two minute video HOW TO on tackling all the FB privacy options. Back to the grading festapoolooza!

Posted by: CollegeQuaParkian1 | May 17, 2010 4:12 PM | Report abuse
This is the latest on the violence in Bangkok.
I got a niece heading over there at the end of the month.

At least the protests in Greece have, for the moment, subsided. I got another niece there now.

Posted by: MsJS | May 17, 2010 4:12 PM | Report abuse

Mudge, I would have to guess that with 11 people dead, millions of dollars of hardware lost, and the downstream ecological and economic effects still to be determnined, there is the possibility that the place *could* be a potential crime scene, couldn't it?

If this were happening on land, wouldn't there be police tape, barriers and security around it until the situations were controlled and the investigations completed?

Again, I'd have to defer to folks with a legal or CJ background here...


Posted by: -bc- | May 17, 2010 4:23 PM | Report abuse

Yanno, CqP, your plight has touched my heart and aroused the Muse lady, who has just come to visit me and leave me with this touching lyric

and it goes

a little something

like this:

Well, I'll be damned
Here comes Facebook again
But that's not unusual
It's just that the WaPo is open
And I wanted to read

And here I sit
Hand on the delete key
Deleting an entry I'd made
A couple of light years ago
Heading straight for Facebook Hell

As I remember its entries
Were stickier than Robin Hood's
My poetry was lousy, it said
Why were you posting it then?
I told it to shut up

Ten years ago I never heard of Facebook
It brought me nothing
We both know what Facebooking memories can bring
They bring abuse of my trust

Well, it burst on the scene, already an addiction
The unwashed phenomenon use
The original timekiller
It strayed into my blog
And there it stayed

Temporarily lost at sea
If “temporary” means forever and a year
Yes, the thing is a living Hell

Now I see it posting my information all over the Web
I want to beat it to death with a club
Now it’s lodged in the Windows operating system
That crummy GUI

That posting will never die
Mingles and hangs in the cyberair
Speaking strictly for me
I wish it would eat s-- and died then and there

Now you're telling me it can’t ever go away
Then Twitter me another choice
You who are so good with words
And at keeping things vague
'Cause I need some of that vagueness now

It's all come back too clearly
Yes, I once posted it dearly
And if you're offering me proof of your trust
It’s too effing late

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | May 17, 2010 4:32 PM | Report abuse

I am in awe.

Posted by: MsJS | May 17, 2010 4:39 PM | Report abuse

And which particular law enforcement agency would have jurisdiction 40 miles out to sea on a vessel (rig) leased to a foreign corporation, with no immediately apparent crime, and all the evidence sunk in 5,000 feet of water? Have you heard even a whiff of a zephyr of a breeze that there was criminal wrongdoing? The fact that 11 people are dead is irrelevant. We already have considerable testimony how the explosion occured, and why, and there's not a trace of criminality suggested in any of it. It's already going to be a monumental civil liability nightmare lasting years if not decades; what prosecutor in his right mind thinks he'd be able to gather enough evidence to go to a grand jury? And on what kind of charges?

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | May 17, 2010 4:49 PM | Report abuse

I hummed along, sir curmudgeon.
Well done!

Posted by: talitha1 | May 17, 2010 4:59 PM | Report abuse

As you mention, Mudge, the civil liability morass will last for years.

And while no evidence of any criminality has been revealed to date, there is still much to learn.

Just because I haven't heard about any criminality in the media doesn't necessarily mean it isn't being investigated.

Posted by: MsJS | May 17, 2010 5:02 PM | Report abuse

Isn't it BP of America based out of Texas? My guess is those employees were paid of an American bank, by an American company, with American taxes.

Besides, aren't ships and occupants of them subject to the laws of the flag they fly? Doesn't the UN Convention on the Laws of the Sea come into play?

I don't think it's been determined that there wasn't any criminal behavior. Locking doors on a chicken plant was a crime, right? There's still a whole lot of depositions from those who were there that need to be taken to determine what happened, and if there was criminal behavior.

Besides, with 11 men gone, it's sort of sacred waters now, isn't it? Like putting the bell back on the Edmond Fitzgerald or leaving the Titanic alone.

Posted by: LostInThought | May 17, 2010 5:12 PM | Report abuse

Yes, MsJS, that's true, but here's the thing. It is all fine and dandy for people to talk about this thing from all angles, and to speculate and make various and sundry suggestions, and rant in general, as many of us do, about the general perfidy and swinishness of the oil industry, govt. m,iscreants, and blah blah blah. But it is an order of magnitude more serious to begin to assert the possibility criminal behavior, especially where there is no immediate sign of one, nor even any reason whatsoever to believe that some sort of vague criminal activity might exist, and we've all just plain missed it.

In J-School one of the very few things they beat into us is to be very, very careful and circumspect about implying any sort of criminality, and worse "publishing" it, which is what posting here on a blog presents--this is "publishing" something.

And there is a great deal of difference btween general, unfocused commentary such as stating that the oil companieas are a gang of thieves and all out to rob us, which is clearly a general hyperbole and singles out no single individual, and isn't taken seriously by courts and lawyers. But when you zero in on a specific event or specific group of people, and then begin to assert some sort of vague criminality is a whole different ballgame. This is where general commentary starts to creep into irresponsible commentary and discussion. And what's worse, in this case no one has any specific kind of crime in mind.

In that regard, how is this particular disaster any different from any other of a thousand structurally similar kinds of disasters? How many oil spills have there been, large and small? Thousands, for certain. Are they all potential crime scenes too? Might we speculate every time an oil rig or any other structure (especially one doing known highly dangerous work) blows up? If a munitions factory blows up up, do we wonder, boy, I bet that's a potential crime scene? No, of course not.

It is when things blow up that don't normally blow up that we are entitled to some suspicion. Oil rigs and grain silos and gunpowder/firecracker factories blow up; that's what they do. Aquariums don't normally blow up, nor golf courses, or jello plants.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | May 17, 2010 5:19 PM | Report abuse

"I don't think it's been determined that there wasn't any criminal behavior."

No, LiT, that's not an arguable position, that the absence of a determination means the possibility is still there. It isn't up to me or anyone to prove there WASN'T criminal behavior; the purden of prooof goes the other way.

No one, not one single person, has yet suggested there was criminal behavior. Not one.

This line of argument is absurd.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | May 17, 2010 5:24 PM | Report abuse

But if a jello plant did blow up, it would be ♪AWE-some♫!

Posted by: yellojkt | May 17, 2010 5:25 PM | Report abuse

FWIW, Congress has asked the DOJ to open a criminal investigation.

Posted by: MsJS | May 17, 2010 5:26 PM | Report abuse

"jelloplant" -- a boodle handle, perhaps? Or maybe "perfidyandswinishness"?

Hands in favor, anyone? Okay, then ... feet?

Posted by: -ftb- | May 17, 2010 5:29 PM | Report abuse

I have seen people blow up on the golf course...

Posted by: Yoki | May 17, 2010 5:29 PM | Report abuse

11 men dead, there's going to be an investigation. No one died on the Exxon Valdez.

Not that we don't already know the feds can be absurd, but they are pushing DOJ to open a criminal probe, as the required equipment wasn't on-site.

Posted by: LostInThought | May 17, 2010 5:30 PM | Report abuse

"And which particular law enforcement agency would have jurisdiction 40 miles out to sea on a vessel (rig) leased to a foreign corporation, with no immediately apparent crime, and all the evidence sunk in 5,000 feet of water?"

Didn't we cover territorial waters a few kits ago? And negligence can be criminal.

Posted by: yellojkt | May 17, 2010 5:37 PM | Report abuse

Aquariums explode all the time, and not just in the movies:

Posted by: yellojkt | May 17, 2010 5:41 PM | Report abuse

I hope Mr. A has cool loose-fitting clothing.

The weather in Galliano, LA is very hot and humid.

Posted by: MsJS | May 17, 2010 5:50 PM | Report abuse

And this company is located there.

"The company owns and operates a growing fleet of new generation offshore service vessels supporting a vast majority of the U.S. Gulf deepwater market, as well as a large independently owned fleet of research vessels. Our high-tech, high-capacity offshore vessels range from 87 feet to 348 feet, and are beyond comparison to any competition."

Posted by: MsJS | May 17, 2010 5:57 PM | Report abuse

I just *googlemapped* Galliano, LA. There is a waterway running straight through the middle of town with E.Main/W.Main Street on either side. Zooming in I could only locate one bridge. It reminds me of so many small towns in the South with railroad tracks bisecting the central main drag.

Posted by: talitha1 | May 17, 2010 6:24 PM | Report abuse

That, the Kit, what I've read so far is beautifully manic writing

I've totally lost my place in the Boodle. Where was I?

I wrote another really really short story, but it sucks. It needs to be told, not read. If you read it You know it's a made up story, but if I tell it you just might wonder. As a told story I think it works OK.

I also spent half an hour in the library writing observations on the people around me. Not a story, just practice narrative descriptive which is a really weak point for me. The descriptive part.

Writing essays in High-school was always hard work for me, and stories are the same. I think to much, it has to be perfect, you have to love it....

Writing program code was always easy and fun. Not work at all really. It worked or didn't. Getting it right the first time was a great pleasure. FIxing when not was a pleasurable challenge.

I ended up at a Salvadorian restaurant on my way home. Man, I have to do everything. I know all of about three hundred Spanish words, and yet I find myself teaching Latinos how to speak their own language.

Una Mas = One More
Otro Mas = Another More


It should be Otro Un
Another One, Otro Un = Another One

Not Mas

Everyone is laughing at me. I'm so funny

Now where was I?

Posted by: omni3 | May 17, 2010 6:26 PM | Report abuse

Man, I love Galliano. Preferably served neat. Sadly, you don't see it around so much now that Harvey Wallbangers have fallen out of favor.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | May 17, 2010 6:31 PM | Report abuse

I'm totally of topic but I think I caught the manic spirit of the Kit

Maybe a little too bit much overboard?

sheesh, I can't even wryt anglise anymore

Posted by: omni3 | May 17, 2010 6:33 PM | Report abuse

ftb, I see the White Sox are in Detroit this week.

The White Sox aren't looking competitive this year. I console myself by saying they are MrJS' team and not mine.

Posted by: MsJS | May 17, 2010 6:39 PM | Report abuse

Finally, Joel gets to do some eye witness reporting!

Tell us where the goop has gone!

NOTE: At some point one must add a bit of humor or else jump off a cliff.

Posted by: Windy3 | May 17, 2010 6:53 PM | Report abuse

According to SSA the number one girls name for the past year is Issabelle or Issabela or some variant. I'm OK with that. Giving this child the nickname Izzy Busy,,,not so much

Number four is I think Madison. Some twenty six years after Splash parents are still naming their girls after a fish. Gawsh, I sound like Weingarten.

Nobody names their girls Myrtle anymore. Imagine a man and woman meet at Myrtle beach. Fall in love. Go back a year later later to get married there. A year later they they have sex on the beach, not the drink, The old in out in out. nine months later. Myrtle is born. For gawsh sakes don't give the middle name Beach, and not even Beech. give her the middle name Birch.

This way, when she goes through her rebellious middle teenage years...

She can stand still in the front yard with arms outstretched
claiming to be a tree...

I'm a Myrtle, No I'm a Birch, No I'm a Myrtle, No I'm a Birch No I'm a Myrtle, No I'm a Birch No I'm a Myrtle, No I'm a Birch

Posted by: omni3 | May 17, 2010 6:55 PM | Report abuse

When I was a high school kid near Dover, Del., there was a Jello plant at the edge of town. Also a Playtex plant that made space suits. Of course this was in a state where the legislature had met in the county courthouse until the county finally built a nicer new courthouse and gave the old one to the state.

Useful Loop Current info here:

Looks like a scenario for:
Panhandle beaches--oiled
Peninsular Gulf beaches--spared
Lower Keys--oiled
Miami to Palm Beach--maybe oiled

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | May 17, 2010 6:57 PM | Report abuse

It sometimes amazes me what I can get away with posting. I know how to post everysingle dirty wird there is in the anglo lang and get it past the filter. with a little effort. spanish is just to easy. But my oh my

I can type/// and post...but won't

Still haven't figured out <:Italics> though

Posted by: omni3 | May 17, 2010 7:02 PM | Report abuse

Thinking of Birch, a well-known Florida surfboard shaper is named Chris Birch.

Thinking of the New Yorker, this week's issue seems strong on cartoons. I'm tempted to buy the one showing Napoleon-Mickey on horseback at the head of a long column of disconsolate Disney characters slogging through barren fields in the snow, pillars of smoke in the distance. Donald is telling Pluto: "I was against Russo-Disneyland from the start".

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | May 17, 2010 7:05 PM | Report abuse

Tragedy plus time is for a joke. I don't think there will be time enough for the joke I just

Carp, I'm just gonna get a beer and watch a movie

Posted by: omni3 | May 17, 2010 7:08 PM | Report abuse

I think that is splendid name for a surf board shaper, especially if he he makes surf boards from birch

Posted by: omni3 | May 17, 2010 7:12 PM | Report abuse

talitha, I suspect that the railway running through town was to make sure there was a "right side of the tracks" and a "wrong side of the tracks".

MsJS, if I were from Chicago, I would in all likelihood be a Cubs fan, as I typically root for the underdawg. As it is, the Tigers aren't doing too bad so far. Pacing themselves quite nicely, I think.

I go from sport to sport, and am mainly a fair weather fan. I was indeed sorry for the Habs last night. Hope they can get their gumption back up for Game 2. If they want to win the Cup, they've gotta be better than they were.

Posted by: -ftb- | May 17, 2010 7:26 PM | Report abuse

It can start to be legitimately argued that Obama, Napolitano and other government officials have dragged their feet in dealing with this situation and haven't taken enough of an authoritative role.

As this environmental disaster of epic proportions drags on – with the dire consequences yet to be fully determined and realized – the U.S. government needs to take a more urgent and heavy-handed approach to the clean up. And not publicly designate a company already being accused by many as grossly negligent and incompetent as the primary organization responsible for saving the environment.

Sure, some of this is posturing and our government is letting BP know it has a lot of liability in the matter.

But this oil spill has already spun way too far out of control, and it’s starting to seem like nobody knows what to do or how to stop it.

Posted by: PhilipTortora | May 17, 2010 7:36 PM | Report abuse

SU lost to Army in the 1st round of the national lacrosse tournament. this is big.

Posted by: -jack- | May 17, 2010 7:37 PM | Report abuse

*Somebody* needs a nap. Maybe even a full night's sleep.

Great lunch chez Yoki today, and only one bottle of Prosecco between four women. They may make a lady of me yet! Mixed baby greens, asparagus, lobster cakes with lemon sabayon (which was, if I do say so myself, awesome). Dark chocolate ganache, red and gold raspberries, raspberry coulis and a touch of whipped cream with dark chocolate curls. No complaints.

The Habs totally deserved to lose last night. But, it is early days.

Posted by: Yoki | May 17, 2010 7:42 PM | Report abuse

ftb, I *know* right/wrong side of the tracks applied. Although we lived out in the country we would be late for school if one of those big long freight trains was pulling through town.

But can you live on the right or wrong side of the canal? Probably so.

Posted by: talitha1 | May 17, 2010 7:50 PM | Report abuse

Yoki, even though I've already had my dinner (which I will *not* describe in detail or otherwise for sheer embarrassment), your description has made me hungry all over again. You *are* a food diva, babe!

I am in awe. Indeed, I am.

Time to fall asleep over the dead tree edition of the WaPo.

Posted by: -ftb- | May 17, 2010 7:55 PM | Report abuse

Yum, Yoki. Especially the lobster.
I was going to tell you all about the pasta puttanesca I whipped up for dinner, but well, I just did. Yoki's menu puts mine to shame.

Posted by: talitha1 | May 17, 2010 7:57 PM | Report abuse

I see a commission will be formed. Which, ideally, should help resolve many things. We shall see.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | May 17, 2010 8:00 PM | Report abuse

That song was brilliant, Mudge. Thanks.

i'm still considering the whole potential criminal liability question. If anything it would probably be criminal negligence. The criminal law is both personal and specific, and it seems unlikely from the reports that any specific bad decision regarding operations which contributed to or even caused the blowout and subsequent explosion, with loss of life, will be attributed to a single person. More on this later.

Posted by: Ivansmom | May 17, 2010 8:00 PM | Report abuse

The Wrong Side of the Canal:

Where all the mules drink their whiskey, take their dumps, talk about their lack of hinnies, then get into hoof-fights.

Nothing worse than a drunken mule stumbling into your bedroom looking for a hot donkey lass.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | May 17, 2010 8:28 PM | Report abuse

Mudge, brill, just brill.

IMom, can you remind us about the personhood of corporations?

Omni -- on a creative streak.

Yoki and Talitha -- both dinners have charms.

Several sessions on campus defining dead zones in aquatic environments. More than 150 documented, enduring dead zones globally worry biologists and ecologists. However, the oil slick and it's three-dimensional vastness are worrisome. This American Chronicle article is brief but ominous reading:

This Agence France Press article also discusses dispersants and position of oil threads and plumes and tendrils.

Dilution is NOT the solution to pollution.

Posted by: CollegeQuaParkian1 | May 17, 2010 8:33 PM | Report abuse

Wilbrod, that goes straight to my file! *chuckling merrily*

Puttanesca was undoubtedly served on the wrong side of the canal, tracks or what have you. ;)

Posted by: talitha1 | May 17, 2010 8:43 PM | Report abuse

As American citizen victims, we demand to see ALL the video of the leaking blow-out preventer, leaking wellhead and the string of blown-out pipe with its numerous leaks. The only video BP released last week is of one leak at the end of the pipe far from the leaking wellhead and leaking preventer which is under much more pressure and leaking profusely. If the wellhead and preventer were not leaking, BP would have released video of them. BP’s oil salvage activity at the end of the pipe has been a total science fiasco and is a diversion of attention from the main leaks at the preventer and wellhead.
Secretive, arrogant and powerful BP refuses to release the videos of the total wellhead damage and President Obama is complicit in the cover-up.
We have the right to see the total damage and leakage so scientist and engineers can truly evaluate the situation.
President Obama you have not taken control of the spill, you have allowed secret BP to call the shoots from the beginning to the present. The “best scientific minds in the world” came up with one good Idea to stop the flow according to Mr. Hayward but he will not tell the public what the idea is and is continuing on BP’s present course of failure. BP has their secret program and has not taken positive action with known Marine Pile Driving Technology to stop the oil flow permanently. Furthermore, you have failed to take charge by not stepping in to control BP’s operations with a STOP THE Oil FLOW TASK FORCE of FBI, Corps of Army Engineers, scientist and private marine construction contractors to begin taking positive action to stop the oil flow permanently. Three months from now (hurricane season) the ecological and economic burden will be so great that the United States of America will be catastrophically bankrupt.
This is right out of Big Oils company playbook: secrecy, stall for time, public relations, litigation protection, maintaining image and owned puppet Congress members to do their bidding.
BP took home $93 million per day in profits—for a total of $6.1 billion—during the first quarter alone. The approximate $3.5 million in damage claims paid out so far by BP are significantly less than CEO Tony Hayward’s 2009 compensation, estimated at over $4,700,000 by Forbes. Senators in Congress are trying to limit BP’s liability and as proof of BP’s prior oil spill conduct in paying liability; look at the Exxon Valdez ongoing 16 year financial litigation fight!
Senator Murkowski, in true reality, by limiting liability for Big Oil, are you and the rest of the members of Congress “ready” for the horrendous backlash coming your way from the American People?
Call your representatives in Congress and demand that the BP videos of the total damage that show the leaks at the well head, preventer and pipe string be released today! We need to stop the oil flow permanently today!

Posted by: 1windcatcher | May 17, 2010 8:58 PM | Report abuse

My own impression of the BP spill is that one single guy working for BP (his name is available but not in front of me now) overruled the drilling superintendant (the chief Transocean employee known in the biz as the 'toolpusher') in either a shouting match or a "private discussion" depending, and ordered the mud pumped out prior to the last plug installation. Looks so far like a case of risk-taking for expediency.

Posted by: Jumper1 | May 17, 2010 8:59 PM | Report abuse

It's like you were there.

Posted by: yellojkt | May 17, 2010 9:18 PM | Report abuse

Things do blow up all the time. Like this place this weekend. I grew up about 10 miles south of there, and one of the guys who was killed lived about 3 houses down from me.

Posted by: steveboyington | May 17, 2010 9:30 PM | Report abuse

I am sorry to hear that steveboyington. That was a scary explosion. I didn't realize there was such a factory up there.

Posted by: badsneakers | May 17, 2010 9:45 PM | Report abuse

I have followed the story a lot, yello. I got that from several different sources before giving reliance / credence to it. Even assuming 60 Minutes paid that electronics guy last night, what he said didn't smell wrong to me. Granted he's "just a motor man." Several sources in the testimony so far say that's about the way it went down.

Posted by: Jumper1 | May 17, 2010 9:55 PM | Report abuse

Windy3 - Don't be too surprised, Joel does get out & about every now and then.

Check out the string of Achenblog entries starting Sept 12, 2008. And these stories:

Posted by: Bob-S | May 17, 2010 10:11 PM | Report abuse

CP, to continue a spring tradition, here's yet another rhubarb recipe.

Posted by: rickoshea11 | May 17, 2010 10:11 PM | Report abuse

Several things:

(1) Given that BP owns or leases private equipment that is built for heavy work at depth, whereas the US government does not own such equipment, I am curious as to what the government should do in "taking charge" of the remediation and termination effort.

(2) Similarly, my impression is that the US government does not have a stockpile of oil spill/dump clean-up equipment, for the simple reason that there has been no Congressional mandate (and Congressional spending authorization) to procure and retain such equipment. Not something for which you can blame Obama, at least, not right now. Perhaps he should have acted on this in anticipation of such a problem. How much "unnecessary" equipment do you need to purchase so that it can be staged, ready to go, in places where it will be valuable, rather than having to be trucked all over the country?

(3) Should the US government simply commandeer the equipment from the people who own it and who know how to use it? Will this make it suddenly work more effectively or be deployed more usefully? This implies that the profit motive (the tool of the much-vaunted "marketplace") is an ineffective goad for BP to operate its equipment efficiently and to terminate the loss of oil that they could sell and to terminate the oil leak whose environmental damage will cost them $100's of millions if not billions. So, is this a conservative argument in favor of big government as the most efficient and effective means to fulfill the interests of the people? Really?

(4) I taught my offspring that the Old Man still has a few MS Word tricks up his sleeve, unknown to young whipper-snappers.

Posted by: ScienceTim | May 17, 2010 10:17 PM | Report abuse

steveboyington - The investigative Achenblog noted that one. Bad stuff.

- - - -
- - - -

"This article is just plain odd -- I know Colebrook, and it's SO the epitome of the quiet northern New England town...


*hoping-for-a-quiet-day-with-good-news-from-several-quarters Grover waves* :-) "

Posted by: Scottynuke | May 16, 2010 6:58 AM | Report abuse

Posted by: Bob-S | May 17, 2010 10:18 PM | Report abuse

One more thing... Mudge, I completely failed to grasp the tune to which you set your most recent magnum opus. I'm afraid I have bad news for you, however: a light year is a unit of distance, not of time. See what you can do about it, would you?

Posted by: ScienceTim | May 17, 2010 10:19 PM | Report abuse

SciTim - That particular fight will never really be won.

But we can hack away at it.

Posted by: Bob-S | May 17, 2010 10:34 PM | Report abuse

Of course, the metaphorical use of distance for time has an honorable history.

"Miles to go before I sleep" is only loosely referring to distance, I think.

Posted by: Bob-S | May 17, 2010 10:38 PM | Report abuse

windcatcher's impassioned comment illustrates my earlier post. If basic information is not forthcoming, people assume the worst. Some people then actively imagine even worse than that. Would we American citizens understand the technical implications, obstructions and potential solutions to be gleaned from all the BP video? No. Had we had it all from the start, would we even have watched every bit? For most of us, probably not. Is video even the most important information we lack? Again, probably not. However, it is the one we feel we can understand, since we can see it, or could if it were provided. However, the lack of initial information, the failure to be forthcoming, the dearth of detail, provides an opening for accusations of wrongdoing on a mass scale and coverup, and invites paranoia into the conversation.

Posted by: Ivansmom | May 17, 2010 10:39 PM | Report abuse

Firing a question to boodlers:

What do you do when a friend's friend is due to die right when you've planned to visit?

I was planning a gift and a lunch out, and some laughter. Still plan it, don't expect the laughter. I just want to hang, but I know I might not get even that due to funeral issues.

Any suggestions?

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | May 17, 2010 10:48 PM | Report abuse

It's probably a fairly reliably true generalization to state that:

As soon as you realize that the problem is beyond your immediate control and you find yourself not wanting to tell anybody about it, you're probably wrong. Very wrong. Nothing good is likely to come of it.

Posted by: Bob-S | May 17, 2010 10:49 PM | Report abuse

Wilbrod, I'm pretty sure that if it was me you were coming to visit in that situation, your plan would be exactly the right one.

Posted by: Bob-S | May 17, 2010 10:52 PM | Report abuse

I wouldn't expect you spend very much on the gift, though!


Posted by: Bob-S | May 17, 2010 10:54 PM | Report abuse

And windcatcher and others who are convinced that it's all a conspiracy by those crazy liberal commie right-wing conservatives who run BP/Interior Department/Halliburton/Walmart:

Relax & take a breath. Whatever they might have been considering in the first couple of days, you may safely assume that this well is going to be shut off the quickest way they know how, absent crazy stuff like setting of huge underwater explosions. If it was do-able two weeks ago, they'd have done it then. If it was do-able last week (given the knowledge & tools at hand) they'd have done it last week. Same goes for tonight & tomorrow & next week.

The underlying formation isn't going anywhere, they can always drill another hole a heck of a lot cheaper than they can deal with this crap.

Posted by: Bob-S | May 17, 2010 11:06 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, Bob S. Was wondering if I should do anything more to be supportive.

The gift is already wrapped complete with a touch of silliness, hence the laughter I hoped for.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | May 17, 2010 11:09 PM | Report abuse

By the way, I fully trust my friend has almost as good taste as you do, Bob S.!

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | May 17, 2010 11:14 PM | Report abuse

SciTim - tune was Diamonds and Rust, and Mudge really outdid himself with the words. Here's a link to Joan Baez version.

Imom and other legal boodlers - I found an interesting blog/commentary(?) on corporations, investor liability, etc.
I have often thought that giving a corporation personhood without moral responsibility or liability has created a lot of problems. It seems that some rights ought to be limited to individuals as opposed to entities such as corporations or even organized groups, or that the owners of the entities and/or individuals in the groups ought to have responsibility and liability to go along with the privileges.

Posted by: km2bar | May 17, 2010 11:17 PM | Report abuse

Wilbrod, I'm sure that your presence will be a gift to your friend in and of itself. And laughter? Even in times of great sorrow it always occurs, at least in my experience. Be there and let your friend's "cues" guide you. *hug*

Posted by: talitha1 | May 17, 2010 11:36 PM | Report abuse

Bob-S - "and miles to go before I sleep"

When you quoted that I couldn't help but smile. Working with special needs kids necessitated my learning sign language. For my first "oral test" I signed that Frost poem for my instructors. I passed.
"The woods are lovely, dark and deep . . . "

Posted by: talitha1 | May 17, 2010 11:42 PM | Report abuse

Oh excellent, Talitha.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | May 17, 2010 11:46 PM | Report abuse

I'm eternally grateful to DaveoftheC for the knowledge that somewhere, sometime, a Jello factory and a Playtex factory were co-existing peacefully. Seems like there'd be a natural tension.

G'night, all.

Posted by: Bob-S | May 18, 2010 12:14 AM | Report abuse

A woman walks into a Bar. The Bar says Ouch.

No but seriously.

Posted by: omni3 | May 18, 2010 3:22 AM | Report abuse

steveboyington -- North Stratford??? Talk about a small world... I have family in and around Colebrook, used to spend most winter weekends up there skiing @ the Balsams! :-)

Wilbrod, just being there will mean worlds to your friend, I'm sure. *HUGSSS*

*wondering-why-the-furnace-just-kicked-on-I-wasn't-even-chilly Grover waves* :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | May 18, 2010 5:29 AM | Report abuse

Bob-S, I was away over the weekend and missed Mr. A mentioning the Colebrook blast. Was out backpacking in the White Mtns, and it seems I will be hobbling due to general out of shapedness for a long time. I have a good Frankenstein walk going right now. Darn calves and quads and other assorted muscle groups.

Posted by: steveboyington | May 18, 2010 5:36 AM | Report abuse

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

Good morning, friends. Spent the better part of yesterday in the emergency room. Feeling a tab better this morning. Pain and more pain.

Perhaps the folks at the helm think that more information concerning the spill would not be good for the American public. And as someone said, would the American public really understand this information. I cite the reasons for absence of more information based on peace and less potential for another Tea Party or Oil Party? Some people are only going to be satisfied if President Obama goes to the Gulf and drink the oil that's spilling everywhere. But then we know that's not going to work, so they get to say, told you he wasn't fit for the job. I just don't see the potential of pleasing too many folks in this picture. And it is one nasty picture.

BP is the culprit here. They need to step up to the plate, and stop hedging. I think they're beyond damage control?

Slyness, we've gotten a lot of rain. The plants are little beat down, but hoping for sun today.

Have a wonderful Tuesday, folks and love to all.

Posted by: cmyth4u | May 18, 2010 6:34 AM | Report abuse

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

Good morning, friends. Spent the better part of yesterday in the emergency room. Feeling a tab better this morning. Pain and more pain.

Perhaps the folks at the helm think that more information concerning the spill would not be good for the American public. And as someone said, would the American public really understand this information. I cite the reasons for absence of more information based on peace and less potential for another Tea Party or Oil Party? Some people are only going to be satisfied if President Obama goes to the Gulf and drink the oil that's spilling everywhere. But then we know that's not going to work, so they get to say, told you he wasn't fit for the job. I just don't see the potential of pleasing too many folks in this picture. And it is one nasty picture.

BP is the culprit here. They need to step up to the plate, and stop hedging. I think they're beyond damage control?

Slyness, we've gotten a lot of rain. The plants are little beat down, but hoping for sun today.

Have a wonderful Tuesday, folks and love to all.

Posted by: cmyth4u | May 18, 2010 6:59 AM | Report abuse

Morning Cassandra, I like posting close to your greetings.

Thanks KM. The special status of corporations, dating from the 1830s IIRC, shapes in large part their behavior. And, the behavior of the principals.

Hey, special request:

Visit this discussion and share a memory of Jim Henson and his marvelous Muppets. The lead paragraph is a bit mixed up. Henson lived in the rambler section of University Park in a small house now nearly dwarfed in bamboo. He worked in the walk-out basement his many characters to improve. His nephew is my neighbor and my son attends his high school alma mater, as did Len Bias (sigh), Jeff Green (plays basketball in Oklahoma) and John Fahey (unsung guitar hero).

Several views of the darling sculpture on campus of Jim and Kermit:

Posted by: CollegeQuaParkian1 | May 18, 2010 7:58 AM | Report abuse

'morning all. Accidents in the explosives industry have become quite rare, at least in the West. The fireworks industry of China is another story altogether... Black powder is a fickle friend. If it were to be presented for approval today I doubt any regulators would OK it.

Another view on the Louisiana situation. The photo essay is presented from a very littoralist point of view but it is still interesting. A slow-motion disaster indeed. ttp://

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | May 18, 2010 8:23 AM | Report abuse

It's unsurprising how often candidates are tripped up by truth:

*rolling my eyes as always*

Posted by: Scottynuke | May 18, 2010 8:30 AM | Report abuse

My nine year old daughter is in love with Justin Bieber.

Posted by: teddymzuri | May 18, 2010 8:50 AM | Report abuse

Good morning. Cassandra, I hope this is a better day.

I'm sorry, teddymzuri. When your daughter reaches puberty and realizes that Jason Bieber never will, the attraction should fade.

Ah, steveboyington - "general out of shapedness". Pure poetry, and so familiar.

Posted by: Ivansmom | May 18, 2010 8:58 AM | Report abuse

Justin. Justin Bieber. All I know about him I learned from the Boy, who is not impressed.

Posted by: Ivansmom | May 18, 2010 9:00 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, all. I hope it's not too late for ham biscuits and hot/cold beverages. They're on the ready room table.

Cassandra, we had well over an inch of rain, which we really needed. Now there's lots of mud around. I hope you feel better today! You are definitely in my prayers.

I've not heard Jason Bieber, but several friends pursuaded me to purchase a ticket to hear Michael Buble when he comes to Charlotte in July. For $91.50, it better be a great concert!

Yesterday, the Geekdottir called the insurance company, took the car to a body shop recommended by her mechanic, and got a rental for the duration, all in the span of about 3 hours. I hope fixing the car will be equally expendient and smooth.

So ready for this mess in the Gulf to be fixed. May those who are working on it find success quickly.

Posted by: slyness | May 18, 2010 9:05 AM | Report abuse

Good morning ye Boodlers!

Crazy fall in Chile. Rains hit the southern part of the Atacana desert where often houses don't have roofs attached to the walls but elevated to just offer shade.

To everyone's relief. The rains in the south are late. The building of emergency shelters is complete.

Now comes the big job of reconstruction. Lots of pigwigs trotting around Europe selling investment opportunities in Chile.

My neighborhood lost some of its Parisian-like charm after two condemned buildings housing cafes and bars were demolished.

I think we have hit bottom.

Haff a gut day, Boodlers. :)


Posted by: Braguine | May 18, 2010 9:28 AM | Report abuse

Munch, munch, slurp, slurp.
Enjoying Slyness'breakfast.


Posted by: Braguine | May 18, 2010 9:32 AM | Report abuse

Munch, munch, slurp, slurp.
Enjoying Slyness'breakfast.


Posted by: Braguine | May 18, 2010 9:33 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, y'all.

Warm muffins. coffee and RRGJ (again) on the table to accompany slyness' bounty.

Lots of healing prayers and mojo to those who need it, including the Gulf itself.

I borrowed an air mattress for this weekend's house guest and the plastic smell is strong enough to cause gagging. A minor example of what those subjected to the oil smell from the spill are experiencing.

I can google to find ways to get rid of the smell. They can't.

Wilbrod, I would embrace a visit from a friend like you regardless of the circumstances. I echo talitha's comment about being guided by cues.

Sweater weather today, but upper 70s by the weekend. Just in time for oldest niece's college granulation.

Posted by: MsJS | May 18, 2010 9:38 AM | Report abuse

I've spotted Chilean persimmons in the supermarket, so fruit processing and shipping is clearly going on.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | May 18, 2010 10:03 AM | Report abuse

Slyness, Buble and Beiber - no comparison, Buble is great if you like his style, Beiber is awful and that is being kind. They are both Canadian, there the similarity ends, think you will enjoy Buble he is a showman.

I have trained my kids well, neither like Beiber.

Posted by: dmd3 | May 18, 2010 10:06 AM | Report abuse

Best wishes Cassandra, hope you're feeling better.
Couldn't believe the hedging on the Hill done by BP's executives last week. At what institution do these people learn to obfuscate like that? I'd like to see them get a situation like this past their mothers. Although, a bit larger than a hand in the cookie jar.

Mornin' 'boodle...

Posted by: ra1967 | May 18, 2010 10:08 AM | Report abuse

clapclapclap to dmd.

Brag, while it's sad to see the cafe and bar demolished, it's a great sign of healing. I hope some a couple of fun new places sprout up in their place.

Posted by: MsJS | May 18, 2010 10:11 AM | Report abuse

'Morning, Boodle.

My home computer is on the blink, so I have been incommunicado since 5 p.m. yesterday. Very disconcerting.

My apologies, SciTim; the tune is Joan Baez's venerable and haunting "Diamonds and Rust," which she wrote about her relationship with Bob Dylan. Here's her terrific 1975 performance:

The original lyric you questioned is as follows: "And here I sit
Hand on the telephone
Hearing a voice I'd known
A couple of light years ago
Heading straight for a fall."

My own unworthy opus kep the "light years" phrase, yes, also as a unit of time rather than distance.

Considering the source is Baez (and Baez writing about Dylan, even worse), I am much loathe to change it or criticize her use (misuse) of said technical term of astronomical distance. Methinks a lyric such as "And here I sit
Hand on the telephone
Hearing a voice I'd known
Approximately the time it takes light to travel 20 or 30 trillion kilometers ago Heading straight for a fall" to be somewhat unwieldy. Although I grant you the rhyme scheme in this song is already stretched pretty far at a couple of points as it is.

While I am almost invariably a fan of an original version of a song as opposed to its cover, I do think Candice Night's version (Blockmore's Night's version) is superior to the Baez, such as this:

The difference, of course, is whether one necessarily attaches Baez to the song, and I would have to agree that Baez pretty much owns it. Once you seperate that ligament, however, then I think Night's performance is better. But I can understand people preferring the Baez.

(There is a Judas Priest cover that is just awful. Abominable, even.)

It might be interesting to discuss whether a song like this requires the listener to know it is about Baez and Dylan, or whether one can come at it "innocent," as it were. I confess I don't actually fully appreciate the "diamonds and rust" metaphor for "both the good and the bad." For me the "rust" part doesn't work very well in this song.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | May 18, 2010 10:18 AM | Report abuse

New photo-kit.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | May 18, 2010 10:22 AM | Report abuse

YOUR ARTICLE reminds me of the marvelous play in Manhattan I caught

"Justin Bieber Stampede"

playwright Larry Myers is a witty whistleblower & stage activist he uses catchy titles to grab people by the throat
halfway thru the play!
He sees Justin Bieber as virulent vaudeville hdiding teh rael issues
info-tainment & dramatic distraction!
Myers was a Katrina volunteer
writing "Limericks from undisclosed Locations"
and just did benefits of his Haiti play "Point of Impact" for Haitian playwrights
this summer he's working for 4th time in San Francisco with homeless folk
his company is RWM PLAYWRIGHTS LAB
he teaches at ST John's U in NYC!

Posted by: dramaman | May 19, 2010 2:33 PM | Report abuse

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