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Oil slathers Louisiana

It's here.

No more waiting.

See this map from NOAA.

My story in tomorrow's paper, scorching off the press:

GRAND ISLE, LA. -- It has become an epic contest between water and oil along the Gulf Coast. Government officials have now opened wide the Mississippi River outlets -- what they call the diversions -- in a desperate attempt to overwhelm the massive oil slick approaching the ragged shoreline of Louisiana. This hydraulic defense employs snowfall from Montana, floodwater from Tennessee. The mighty river drains half the country, and every creek and stream and seep from the Rockies to the Appalachians has been enlisted in the battle.

But still it appears the oil is winning.

A steady wind from the southeast is blowing the oil ashore. The forecast by the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration projects a massive landfall Sunday to the west of the Mississippi River. The heaviest patch of oil is taking dead aim at Port Fourchon, which has boomed thanks to the proliferation of deepwater drilling.

Already the slick has polluted some of the biologically richest waters in America. Even worse damage could take place this week as oil soaks the beaches and passes through the feeble barrier islands to the inland bays, marshes and estuaries -- the nurseries for shrimp, oysters crabs. The names of these places will be in the news in the days ahead: Terrebonne Bay, Timbalier Bay, Caminada Bay and Barataria Bay. "All the diversions are wide open," Myron Fischer, director of a research lab for the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries in Grand Isle, said of the river. "Just trying to push."

But a prevailing current near the mouth of the Mississippi flows east to west toward Texas, and it has caught the oil. An eddy appears to be forcing it directly toward Port Fourchon and Grand Isle.

What is poised to be a major disaster for fecund ecosystems ranging from brackish marsh to deep coral reefs in the darkness of the continental slope comes on top of decades of man-made stress: The gulf coast fisheries have long been threatened by the slow-motion crisis of coastal erosion.

For at least a century, the natural landscape has been pummeled by heavy industry and human engineering projects. With the river largely imprisoned between high levees, the natural floodwaters are no longer allowed to feed sediment to the marshes. Moreover, the oil companies cut canals for pipes and drilling rigs in the marshlands. All of this made it easier for salt water to invade the brackish estuaries. The grass died. Marsh became open water. Barrier islands began to erode. Hurricanes blasted them further.

The result is that Louisiana is vanishing. The state has lost 2,300 square miles of land since the 1930s, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) said this week.

"If a foreign country tried to take this land away from us, we'd fight them," he said.

Click here to keep reading.

By Joel Achenbach  |  May 22, 2010; 8:54 PM ET
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Oil spill a lot more than 5,000 barrels a day
Next: The boudin and other cajun meat


Call me a goofbutt, but I began to sob reading Joel's report.

Thanks Mr.A for "telling it like it is".

Posted by: talitha1 | May 22, 2010 9:17 PM | Report abuse

The opening graf took my breath away, then I too became a goofbutt.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | May 22, 2010 9:27 PM | Report abuse

George Carlin was onto something when he said (I'm paraphrasing) Mother Earth will be just fine once she shakes off those pesky people.

Posted by: LostInThought | May 22, 2010 9:44 PM | Report abuse

Drill, Bobby, Drill. Jindal wanted the oil royalties and after this is finished, that is all Louisiana will have. Given a choice between that money and having back the bayous and estuaries, I wonder if Louisiana would do something different. Florida does not want or need any part of the filthy business of oil drilling or the chump change that it gives in exchange for poisoning the environment. We will pass a state constitutional amendment to that effect in November. Obama, take it somewhere else, try Alaska, they like the oil corporations up there.

Posted by: seemstome | May 22, 2010 9:48 PM | Report abuse

Drill, Bobby, Drill. Jindal wanted the oil royalties and after this is finished, that is all Louisiana will have. Given a choice between that money and having back the bayous and estuaries, I wonder if Louisiana would do something different. Florida does not want or need any part of the filthy business of oil drilling or the chump change that it gives in exchange for poisoning the environment. We will pass a state constitutional amendment to that effect in November. Obama, take it somewhere else, try Alaska, they like the oil corporations up there.

Posted by: seemstome | May 22, 2010 9:50 PM | Report abuse

So, in this case, it is not a foreign country doing this to you but the economic system, why not work to change it

Posted by: employee2 | May 22, 2010 9:58 PM | Report abuse

frostbitten, here's the tissues . . . . . pass 'um along. Is the bunker well stocked?

Posted by: talitha1 | May 22, 2010 10:02 PM | Report abuse

I think I'll wait till tomorrow to read the story. Yes, Talitha, plenty of tissues in the bunker. The boxes are on the third shelf in the pantry...

Posted by: slyness | May 22, 2010 10:07 PM | Report abuse

A complementary perspective from the NYTimes (though the writing pales in comparison):

Posted by: DNA_Girl | May 22, 2010 10:23 PM | Report abuse

The river in Our Fair City flows north, a part of the Hudson Bay Watershed, but I see the Mississippi in a near wild state just to our south a couple times a week. To our southwest it is easy to understand why it took so long to settle on the source as Lake Itasca. There the river is just a silver sliver between lakes, cutting through peat bog, marsh, and stands of wild rice. It crushes my soul to think of what we've done to it even before this mess.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | May 22, 2010 10:30 PM | Report abuse

Joel seems to be functioning just fine in a terribly complex natural and human environment.

I think I have a post-Katrina book on how to save the Mississippi Deltaic Plain (to use the technical term for the broad sweep of the delta). There have been lots of ideas--encouraging the formation of crevasses (breaks in the natural or artificial levees of the river, more or less), encouraging water to flow to places other than the birds-foot delta, where sediment disappears over the edge of the Continental Shelf, destroying as many dams as possible upstream, to bring sediment down the river to the Gulf.

The deltaic plain's surface has to grow upward just for the shoreline to stay where it is. Subsidence and sea level rise mean that sediment has to spread into the marshes for the grasses to catch. Peat can form, too (as in the Everglades).

(Ref: John W. Day, Jr. et al. 2007. Restoration of the Mississippi Delta: Lessons from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Science 315(5819): 1679-1684).

The oil spill might be of some use if it generates the political will to do the terribly expensive and sometimes disruptive things that may make the deltaic plain healthy enough to cope, at least partially, with the threat over the next decades of rising sea level.

Can upstream states be persuaded to sacrifice some dams?

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | May 22, 2010 10:33 PM | Report abuse

I am sure that England, the land BP is based on, will see this oil ashore, may be not soon, but by the end of the year. We will see it on the Long Island, and Jersey Shores, Martha's Vinyard, Cape Cod, may be not this summer season, but next year for sure, unless EPA doesn't use dispersant. Our beach will be messed up at varying degree. Probably, EPA, Obama Administration will be forced to use dispersant, to avoid it. Making unknown number of species extinct. This is a epic environment altering disaster. It is not anybody's fault as far as the clean up is concerned. Government, people, companies cannot erase this spill. We can blame only who contributed to the disaster, not the people who are cleaning up the mess. No matter how they clean, it is going to show our tragic inability to cope. As far as the effect on eco-system, it is comparable to Chernoble, Three Mile Island, or any other man made disaster probably hundred times over...

Posted by: humblesage | May 22, 2010 10:37 PM | Report abuse

"Can upstream states be persuaded to sacrifice some dams?"

I hope so DotC.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | May 22, 2010 10:37 PM | Report abuse

Think of the Great Continental Beaver Massacre that largely eliminated the animal that shaped our streams, from the long-gone beaver meadows of southwestern Pennsylvania to beaver terraces in the Rockies that look surprisingly like rice paddies.

"...the Pilgrims themselves had a real-world American dream in mind, which was centered on the North American beaver. In the 1620s, a single beaver pelt fetched the same amount of money required to rent nine acres of English farmland for a year. For a time, the Pilgrims capitalized on that raw material: in the 1630s, they shipped 2,000 beaver pelts to England."

(Book review of "Making Haste from Babylon" by Russell Shorto)

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | May 22, 2010 10:41 PM | Report abuse

It's a mystery how our country can come up with enough money and engineering brilliance to go into space and yet be unable to come up with a solution to this devastating problem. I heard that some ordinary citizens have been using plain old hay to absorb the top oil but there's been nothing in the press about it, only the desperate efforts by "experts" none of which have shown any real results. I am also flabbergasted by President Obama's statement yesterday that offshore drilling would be allowed to continue if the oil companies could provide assurances that this sort of thing wouldn't happen again. That is, without a doubt, the most ridiculous, self-serving statement of his presidency. The dangers of offshore drilling were conveniently ignored when unthinkable amounts of money were put in the hands of our legislators by the vultures of BIG OIL. It should NEVER have been allowed in the first place but Obama now wants "assurances" that this will not happen again. It will. Just as sure as the sun sets, it will. Our system is completely corrupt and Obama is at least partially responsible as are members of previous administrations. It's all about huge profits and to hell with the American people who will suffer immeasurably from their greed. If we could stop our petty bickering and agree that the government must be held accountable for the blatant corruption that has a strangle hold on us, we just might have a chance to survive. Otherwise, our children and their children will grow up in a world like that of any other third world country. Believe it.

Posted by: larrypoke | May 22, 2010 10:55 PM | Report abuse

Humblesage, can you please be specific about any documented human or environmental damage from the incident at Three Mile Island?

I believe that the containment safeguards there worked, and that there really wasn't any damage other than to the operations of the reactor and the plant itself.

Don't think it's fair to compare the Deepwater Horizon/BP situation with that, or with Chernobyl.

And I'm with those taking the long view that Gaia will take care of herself, and that may not necessarily include we humans.

Might include giant intelligent cockroaches, and/or Cher.

If we want to stay, we probably need to do a better job keeping the place clean and liveable, and stop futzing with the thermostat, too.


Posted by: -bc- | May 22, 2010 11:00 PM | Report abuse

For those sceptical of Gaia, there's the "Medea Hypothesis: Is Life on Earth Ultimately Self-Destructive?" by Peter Ward.

Oil drilling in the Gulf has a reasonable safety and environmental record. I think we'll know in a couple of years whether BP met industry and regulatory standards.

I'd like to be a fly on the wall over at Exxon. Bet I'd hear nasty things being said about BP.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | May 22, 2010 11:13 PM | Report abuse

Is Chernobyl really that great of a comparison for an environmental disaster, or is it just inhospitable to people?

Posted by: LostInThought | May 22, 2010 11:35 PM | Report abuse

My sympathies go out to mudge. Spending a Saturday in the ER is no picnic. Get better soon, buddy.

Posted by: yellojkt | May 23, 2010 12:06 AM | Report abuse

And in other oil news, the 'top kill' attempt has been postponed to Tuesday. While Louisiana bastes, BP fiddles.

Posted by: yellojkt | May 23, 2010 12:15 AM | Report abuse

LiT, Chernobyl was a disaster of epic proportions. If you have the time and inclination (I don't, any longer, but spent years on these various projects and broke my own heart in the effort), go to and just put Chernobyl into the search window on the main page.

Environmental, social, health, safety, human, economic disaster of the first water for that part of Ukraine and scary for all neighbours, and not something anyone planned for. Or, sadly, to this day, knows what to do about to really fix it in the long term.

It almost acts as an endorsement of good nuclear. Here Is What Not To Do. And we don't, in NA.

I was there about, oh, four years ago, and the cabbages that grow in the few remaining overgrown weedy gardens are frightening.

More frightening, squatters are there, eating them.

Posted by: Yoki | May 23, 2010 12:15 AM | Report abuse

Yeah, Yoki, I know. I meant social, health, safety, human, economic aspects aside. How the earth was dealing with it, not us. Back to my earlier post.

Have a good night all.

Posted by: LostInThought | May 23, 2010 12:25 AM | Report abuse

Yes, I know, LiT, which is why I included environmental in the list; how the world, Gaia, has dealt with it.

No bird sings (or, didn't when I was there last) and the soil is not sterile, but toxic. It is very strange; there are many bacteria, but almost no archaea (in normal ppm) and almost all but not all the eukaryotes are sports. And their twists are widely (but not reliably) heritable. It is very confusing, I think. Just look at the calves and the mushrooms.

Posted by: Yoki | May 23, 2010 12:42 AM | Report abuse

Oh Shenandoah
I long to see you
Far away from farmland runoff

Oh Shenandoah
You're bound to wander
Through the hell of coal hills.

Oh Shenandoah
Why do we need you?
Have you peace and tranquil moments?

Oh Shenandoah
I spend my mornings
Skipping stones against your sunlight.

The Shenandoah flows north via two branches round the Massanutten into the Potomac at Harper's Ferry and conjoins with the Rappahannock and the Patapsco, Patuxent, Choptank, York and Charles among other mighty riverways to form the Chesapeake.

So too the Mississippi with her Ohio and Missouri, her Ozark, Tennessee and Chattahoochee, her myriad streams, converging, spilling into the mighty Gulf.

Rivers running to the sea in hope of cleansing waters. Gone.

(no shame, still a goofbutt ;) )

Posted by: talitha1 | May 23, 2010 1:02 AM | Report abuse


Posted by: Yoki | May 23, 2010 1:16 AM | Report abuse

Cool that you included all that info. So it's toxic, yet something grows. Hmmm. Sorta like the Tea Party.

Posted by: LostInThought | May 23, 2010 1:26 AM | Report abuse


Posted by: Yoki | May 23, 2010 1:28 AM | Report abuse

Oh lighten up Yoki. Think of Dr. Rappaccini or Rachel in Leibowitz.

Posted by: LostInThought | May 23, 2010 2:03 AM | Report abuse

I'm fine with Rachel. You?

Posted by: Yoki | May 23, 2010 2:16 AM | Report abuse

Of course I do this
and this
and this

Posted by: Yoki | May 23, 2010 2:21 AM | Report abuse

I think, LiT, that we are understanding hearts.

Posted by: Yoki | May 23, 2010 2:32 AM | Report abuse

In my head
I'm lost in thought
while Yoki plants songs in my ear
that haven't taken root

Posted by: talitha1 | May 23, 2010 3:56 AM | Report abuse

Pretty talitha know,
that my songs are hard
but good

Posted by: Yoki | May 23, 2010 4:10 AM | Report abuse

While Florida may not want any part of the dirty business of drilling - as you've stated - Florida sure doesn't seem to have a problem fueling up on cheap oil drilled and refined and befouling our shores here in Louisiana.
I guess it's easy to ride up on that shiny high horse when your fueling it with the oil sucked out from under us.

Posted by: mojofearless | May 23, 2010 5:45 AM | Report abuse

Good morning all. I'm hopeful all this rain won't hurt the 'maters.

Poignant and powerful article, Joel. The accompanying graphic is also excellent.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | May 23, 2010 8:32 AM | Report abuse

Good article indeed.

A new poutine-eating champion has been crowned and he is an American. I love poutine as much as the next guy but 5.8kg-12 3/4 lbs of it is WAAAY too much.

Off to move some tiles and seed som veggies.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | May 23, 2010 8:38 AM | Report abuse

I think the effect of this disaster is clearly Chernobyl-like because of its sheer extent.

The cause of this disaster, though, is increasingly looking like the Challenger disaster, in that it might be the result of specific design flaws, which may have been know about beforehand.

But the fundamental problem is the inability to reliably deal with problems a mile down. Before the industry moves forward, I think we need to pause and really figure this stuff out.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | May 23, 2010 8:52 AM | Report abuse

"Morning, Boodle. As is my wont when I am hospitalized, I am not exactly the best of patients. Oh, I remain highly courteous and friendly (and the staff here are great)...but I refuse to sit in my room and lie abed in my stpuid booty-baring schmata. So I am fed, medicated and dressed, and have gotten permission to wander free about the hospital. They had what they call the "Family Internet Center" here, which is single room the size of a walk-in closet, with a desk and this one lone computer. You have to go to the concierge desk to get the password and sign the book, which I have done, to get Internet access (and the WaPo made me sign in as usual, to post). So here I am, having just backboodled and quickly scanned the front page to see what is going on in the world. And a large RIP for the legendary Dottie K of Her Own League, an apt title if there ever was one.

Before I left the room I filled out my lunch order. I'm having the pot roast, roast potatoes, the Crystal Light mystery beverage. It's kinda like elementary schoo, filling out your lunch order three hours before you're gonna eat it, and knowing the depths of its unpalatability.

I am "under observation" (methinks they have a dossier on me in Zurich) and also under an isolation protocol, wherein docs and nurses and techs must glove up and wear special yellow gowns whenever they touch my person, not because I am currently conagious (I am not) but because three years ago I had MRSA. So I am like a leper, wandering the corridors, and untouchable, shunned for a disease that sets my own ilk apart from the rest of humankind. I'll let you know if my nose falls off or if my fingers begin to wither and crumble.

This morning a doc came in and said that instead of getting a PICC line tomorrow for my IV meds, there's a new pill that might work just as good. However, it is horribly expensive, and the co-pay was a couple hundred dollars. Could I afford that? I said no.


Posted by: curmudgeon6 | May 23, 2010 11:01 AM | Report abuse

Meanwhile, the smartest thing I did all day yesterday was on the way here, I stopped at a Barnes and Noble and bought Stieg Larsson's vol. 2, The Girl Who played With Fire. And since 5 p.m. yesterday I have read the first 170 pages, and will probably read that much again today, having nothing better to do than sit here and Boodle, sit in my leper's cave and read, and wander the halls of this great institution spreading good cheer and acquiring many new and interesting ailments, maladies, diseases, and plagues.

(Oh, the good thing about being a MRSA-leper is I get a private room. They were gonna stick me with a roomate until they saw the MRSA history thing on my chart.)

CqP, Mrs. Curmudgeon awaits your phonecall any time.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | May 23, 2010 11:13 AM | Report abuse

I commend your grasp of the issues. Last year I lived across the street from John Day's brother, also a wetlands scientist. The Louisiana/Texas coast is big oil country. And America's love of the black crud is akin to a drug addict's love for his poison. What was that line from Crazy Heart? Falling feels like flying for a little while.

Posted by: davemarks | May 23, 2010 11:14 AM | Report abuse

Good morning all! Dr G and I are enjoyed waking up in our own bed this morning. We had a wonderful week of traveling and are happy to be home.

I read all the kits from the past 10 days and it's just heartbreaking. I have a very good friend who lives on Dauphin Island in the Mobile Bay and he says that, while the tourists are staying away, the island is full of crews trying to encircle the island in booms to keep off the oil as much as they can.

Even though I've now read the kits, I can't possibly do the accompanying backboodling. Can someone provide highlights (and/or lowlights) for me?

Posted by: -TBG- | May 23, 2010 11:16 AM | Report abuse

Mudge-I truly am sorry that you are in the hospital, but if you decided to jump off from your 11:01 into a mystery novella in boodle installments there'd be no objections from my direction.

Birds have found the Hip Urban Loft balcony and must have spent the last week doing what birds do when they're not eating. If we don't get the slightly likely thunderstorm this afternoon I'll have to do something about it. Yuck.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | May 23, 2010 11:17 AM | Report abuse

Greetings, all. I just looked at my watch and noted that it's already 11:30 in the morning (eastern time, anyway)! Geezos-Peezos -- where *has* the day gone, I ask ya???

Joel's kit is, as expected and as admired, tragically wonderful. I can't read it through, as my heart keeps breaking. *sigh*

Dearest Mudgekins, by all means *do* be the patient you want to be and need to be. And let me/us know what you think of the second book in the series, even if you end up not liking it much. Don't worry, book #3 will take care of a lot of that. At least it did for me. How long will you be incarcerated? Can you have visitors, or do we have to get disinfected first? Of course, you will probably be home before I get myself down there to pay a visit. In any event, even *more* homemade, and duly marinaded, karma is being faxed your way as we speak.

If good intentions mean anything (which they usually don't in my case), I *ahem* "intend" to take backhoe to office this afternoon. *snort*

No, really. (*snort* *snort*)

Posted by: -ftb- | May 23, 2010 11:39 AM | Report abuse

TBG - Well, there were recipes & poetry. Some visits by angry dead-horse beaters. Oh, and let's not forget the knock-knock jokes.

In sad news for the galline fashion industry, Nevada won't allow chicken costumes at the polls for future elections.

Posted by: Bob-S | May 23, 2010 12:22 PM | Report abuse

I miss Bush! He'd find some country to blame for the spill, and we'd declare war on it. Then at least we could feel like we were doing something! Sterling Greenwood/Aspen

Posted by: AspenFreePress | May 23, 2010 12:39 PM | Report abuse

I miss Bush! He'd find some country to blame for the spill, and we'd declare war on it. Then at least we could feel like we were doing something! Sterling Greenwood/Aspen

Posted by: AspenFreePress | May 23, 2010 12:40 PM | Report abuse

Aspen - LOL!

Posted by: Bob-S | May 23, 2010 12:44 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, Bob.

Posted by: -TBG- | May 23, 2010 12:51 PM | Report abuse

Now I have a load of white oak. Split some for a test before declaring that loading it, transporting it, and unloading it here was enough toil for a Sunday. It splits nicely. It is NOT sweet gum. Yeah!

Posted by: Jumper1 | May 23, 2010 12:58 PM | Report abuse

Welcome home from me, too, TBG! You were missed.

Aspen -- all during the Bush administration (whom I called "little boy"), I even missed Richard Nixon. I'm just sick of this mess. For anyone to blame it on Obama, that's just nutz! If they want gummint to fix everything that private industry does, then stop using the word "socialist" as an expletive!


Time for lunch, methinks.

Posted by: -ftb- | May 23, 2010 1:02 PM | Report abuse

I am feeling so helpless about this oil leak, which I'm sure is the general consensus for those of us who are far away and have no talents to lend to the situation. Not that anything much seems to be helping right now.

Mudge, you have the best book possible for your incarceration. Hope it takes your mind off the bad food etc. I am faxing you sushine, a marinated steak and not sure what else yet. Suggestions are welcome.

Posted by: badsneakers | May 23, 2010 1:11 PM | Report abuse

I imagine Joel is familiar with John M. Barry. He would be a great interview:

From his website:

After Hurricane Katrina, the Louisiana Congressional delegation asked him to chair a bipartisan working group on flood control. In 2007 a Democratic governor appointed him to both the Southeast Louisiana Flood Control Authority East, which oversees six levee districts in the metropolitan New Orleans area, and the Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority, which develops and implements the hurricane protection plan for the state. In 2009 a Republican governor reappointed him to both positions.

The National Academies of Science has recognized his expertise in entirely different areas, inviting him to give not only the 2006 Wolman Lecture on water resources, but also the keynote speech at its first international scientific meeting on influenza. Similarly, he has been keynote speaker at both a White House Conference on the Mississippi Delta and an International Congress on Respiratory Viruses; he has spoken at the National War College, the Council on Foreign Relations, Harvard Business School, and many similar venues. He is also co-originator of Riversphere, a $100 million center being developed by Tulane University which will be the first facility in the world dedicated to comprehensive river research.
In addition to serving on advisory boards at Johns Hopkins and MIT, he is on the board of the Society of American Historians, American Heritage Rivers, and the advisory board for the National Mississippi River Museum in Dubuque. Before becoming a writer, Barry coached football at the high school, small college, and major college levels. Currently Distinguished Scholar at the Center for Bioenvironmental Research of Tulane and Xavier Universities, he lives in New Orleans.

Posted by: davemarks | May 23, 2010 1:27 PM | Report abuse

I see the top-kill has been delayed a few days. Yes, I want them to do this right, but it is still disappointing.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | May 23, 2010 1:50 PM | Report abuse

No doubt the CEO of BP toured the spill area and said, "I love the smell of oil. It smells like... victory!"

Posted by: Bob-S | May 23, 2010 2:17 PM | Report abuse

Martin Gardner has died.

So it goes.

Posted by: yellojkt | May 23, 2010 2:21 PM | Report abuse

Welcome back. You were missed.

Everybody keep mudge from reading the lead piece in the Opinion section.

America's new culture war: Free enterprise vs. government control

It's a basically an unpaid advertisement for the American Enterprise Institute claiming that 'statists' (which sounds suspiciously sounds like 'socialists') are trying to strangle good ole' American Free Enterprise. Because unregulated capitalism has been having such a strong winning streak lately.

Posted by: yellojkt | May 23, 2010 2:35 PM | Report abuse

Oh, yello -- wow! He was 95 years old, which is quite a remarkable benchmark. Interestingly enough, my parents had bought his books, which I now have. And even though I ended up being a math major in undergraduate school, I never cracked those books. I was scanning my eyes over my massive, never ending, supply of books on my various bookshelves and my eye caught Martin Gardner's books. Yep, they're going to go onto the table closer to those books on my more immediate list. Bless his heart, yanno?

Posted by: -ftb- | May 23, 2010 2:40 PM | Report abuse

TBG, Manon has a granddaughter have a stroke on Mother's Day, and Ftb was missing her mom on the anniversary of her death.

Some haikus. Some split green pea help for me, and jokes from Bob S. on that score a couple kits ago.

For the rest: well, we say in sign land: TRAIN ZOOM SORRY. You had to be there.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | May 23, 2010 2:43 PM | Report abuse

Yello, Truthout has a very, very good article called "Death Defying Institutional Brands" that I've been sending around to friends who should read it ... and probably won't. It's really excellent.

Posted by: -ftb- | May 23, 2010 2:53 PM | Report abuse

Every time I am willing to abandon my cynical belief that BP is just stringing us along until they can get a new well drilled in a month or two, they hem and haw and stall. Here is a great paragraph from the fairly liberal Firedoglake blog which goes even further than I do.

"But you know what hasn’t worked? The big top hat, the little top hat, the giant sippy straw, the blow out preventer, toxic dispersant sold by a BP subsidiary and the top kill and junk shot BP blathers about are laughable on their face. The solution ideas to date have been straight out of the Wile E. Coyote Acme School of BP Profitology. And the Ferengi like addiction to oil profit is exactly the issue as BP has clung to every bone headed idiotic play available that will keep their precious oil well viable for production; all the while bleeding out its black death to the Gulf. BP would literally rather kill the Gulf and screw the citizenry than destroy its investment."

Time to bring in the bunker busters and be done with it.

Posted by: yellojkt | May 23, 2010 3:01 PM | Report abuse

Hey y'all.

Welcome home TBG. Hope you've got some good roadtrip stories to tell.

yello, I forced myself to read that AEI/Brooks piece this morning. His ideas on the "culture war" made me gag, but didn't surprise me given the source. And our friend in the hospital has a much better choice of reading already in hand.

My homepage (Dell provided *shrug*) is MSN. When I logged on just now they were running a loop of stories one of which was on the oil spill. Much to my surprise when I clicked it Joel's piece from today popped up. Properly attributed.

Did you all see the wapo story on the Nature Conservancy ties to BP?

Hope you're all having a peaceful Sunday.

Posted by: talitha1 | May 23, 2010 3:04 PM | Report abuse

John M. Barry reminds me of Atul Gawande's comment that he has three jobs (surgeon, professor, New Yorker writer) because he'd get bored doing just one. There's got to be some general truth to that. Some can thrive doing one thing (the Cleveland Clinic's most highly paid employee is said to be a bariatric surgeon who revises a whole lot of stomachs). A few people do multiples. As an undergrad, I admired a faculty member who was doing pioneering research on the Everglades as an "environment of coal formation" while running the committee that was building a new hospital.

Here's a Time-Picayune story on the long term (via Washington Monthly, via Atrios):

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | May 23, 2010 3:12 PM | Report abuse

SCC: And I is having another dysgrammaria flare, punctuated with colon excess.

Time for some cake wrecks to make me feel literate again.

Welcome back, TBG.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | May 23, 2010 3:18 PM | Report abuse

Very recent MLB pitcher Jose Lima has also passed away @ 37, apparently a heart attack:

And somewhat less seriously, I see from the magic moving picture box that it seems is seeking a new band.

Posted by: Scottynuke | May 23, 2010 3:19 PM | Report abuse

I believe 'Mudge could theoretically be visited until 8, but if they're doing all that anti-MRSA stuff that would suggest no visitors. *confoozed as always*

Posted by: Scottynuke | May 23, 2010 3:25 PM | Report abuse

Great article, ftb. Here's the link for the Google-adverse:

Posted by: yellojkt | May 23, 2010 3:27 PM | Report abuse

Thinking of the coast's fate, if oil is going to keep coming ashore for years, I'd like to know whether it might be weathered and less toxic. There must be some place (Santa Barbara channel, perhaps?) with natural undersea leakage of petroleum. If so, what is the stuff like when and if it comes ashore? Is it as toxic as fresh oil hitting Louisiana seems to be?

If the Louisiana oil kills marsh grasses, I assume that the result won't be mud flats, at least not for very long. Grassless mud seems likely just to break up and move, particle by particle, somewhere else.

I don't want to think about a storm surge moving grass-killing oil long distances across the marshes. I'm sure scenarios are being thought out right now.

Long-term, removing dams on the Missouri system may be essential for giving the Delta the materials it needs to rebuild, perhaps in places that are currently open water. John McPhee wrote about engineering efforts to keep the Mississippi from diverting itself down the Atchafalaya, which already has a small, growing delta of its own.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | May 23, 2010 3:27 PM | Report abuse

Obama campaigning against Bush--again LOLOL WHAT A JOKE THIS ADMINISTRATION IS






Posted by: yourmomscalling | May 23, 2010 3:39 PM | Report abuse

ftb, thanks for the steer toward the Truthout article. Just finished it and it's numerous links. (Jon Stewart's CNN rant was a standout.) Eisler is very insightful and doen't pull any punches. I think I'd like to try one of his novels.

Posted by: talitha1 | May 23, 2010 3:44 PM | Report abuse

Yello, that Opinion piece reveled itself as typical AEI bilge midway through the second paragraph. A quick check at the end confirmed my suspicion.

There was a brief period when the Post was identifying the affiliation of the writers of these over-the-transom propaganda pieces at the beginning of the articles. I'm guessing that putting "American Enterprise Institute" at the beginning was the equivalent of saying "this is a useless load of crap -- don't waste your time" and page-vews plummeted. So the editors bravely returned to the practice of burying affiliation at the end.

Posted by: rashomon | May 23, 2010 3:44 PM | Report abuse

That was a good John McPhee article. As I'm sure you're aware, one of the problems is that the scientific community has competing theories on how to address wetland loss, i.e., focused diversions vs. massive diversions that would run counter to many commercial interests. Regarding your question as to what the oil would look like, I was at a conference for a few days a few months back and stayed at the Embassy Suites in Oxnard, Calif. There are off-shore rigs tarry clumps of oil wash onto the shore. The beach side entrance to the hotel has a large sign that reads, please use the paper towels to wipe off all oil from footwear before entering hotel property.

Posted by: davemarks | May 23, 2010 3:47 PM | Report abuse

Oh hey... your mom's calling.

Posted by: -TBG- | May 23, 2010 3:49 PM | Report abuse

And she's yelling really loud. I can tell because of the ALL CAPS.

Posted by: -TBG- | May 23, 2010 3:51 PM | Report abuse

This thread on Oil Drum has several commenters making very funny hypothetical BP PR discussions on how to best mitigate their liability.

Two top strategies are to use as much dispersant (which are themselves largely petroleum distillates which begs a putting out a fire with kerosene metaphor) as possible and to keep up the well-capping theater going as long as possible.

Posted by: yellojkt | May 23, 2010 3:59 PM | Report abuse

Can't hear you, TBG, whadja say??? :-)

Welcome back, BTW!!!

Posted by: Scottynuke | May 23, 2010 4:00 PM | Report abuse

And quit collecting your shower drain hair. BP doesn't want it.

Posted by: yellojkt | May 23, 2010 4:09 PM | Report abuse

Well, yello, I think we should send our shower drain hair to BP anyway. One strand at a time. And to each of its shareholders.

And to "yourmomscalling" -- when you are a guest in our home, you are required to use your indoor voice. Otherwise, we will have to take away your private jet and put you into timeout corner until you get some brains. Which could be forever, but we don't mind the wait.

Posted by: -ftb- | May 23, 2010 4:12 PM | Report abuse

I'm vindicated in my derision of the hairboom idea? Boy, that hardly ever happens. I was hoping I was wrong.

I really like the Oil Drum site and have been reading it everyday (along with the Picayune). The OD commenters are informative and often droll. One today said, "about the oil spill, I'm almost out of energy to maintain the proper level of outrage." I haven't gotten that weary yet but some good news would be welcomed. Not holding my breath.

Posted by: talitha1 | May 23, 2010 4:48 PM | Report abuse

Back maybe 30 years ago, tarballs were ubiquitous on the south and central Florida Atlantic beaches, so foot-cleaning stations were also ubiquitous. The balls and cleaning stations disappeared since then.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | May 23, 2010 5:28 PM | Report abuse

Are there any tissues left?
Watching all this unfold is horrifying. And this might be the first situation Rahm Emmanuel hasn't been able to cuss into submission.

Posted by: AgAnnie | May 23, 2010 5:53 PM | Report abuse

Welcome home TBG.

Mudge, hope you are doing well.

Been outside most of the day, so beautiful here, warm, sunny. Kids have been playing, swimming, me gardening, one visit to the ice cream truck, pizza on its way - a good day.

I do hope they find a way to mitigate the damage the oil will cause to the environment.

Posted by: dmd3 | May 23, 2010 5:55 PM | Report abuse

Blackhawks. Western. Conference. Champions.

Posted by: MsJS | May 23, 2010 6:00 PM | Report abuse

Congrats MsJS, some prayers to the hockey gods for an Original Six Stanley Cup would be helpful, and perhaps St. Jude.

Posted by: dmd3 | May 23, 2010 6:06 PM | Report abuse

While I"m all for prayers to the hockey gods for a Habs-Hawks final, please also direct your intent to the Gulf, Haiti, Chile, China, and anywhere else that's in need of support right now.

Great job Mr. A.

Niece#1 got her college diploma about 20 minutes ago. *major applause from CasaJS*

Posted by: MsJS | May 23, 2010 6:20 PM | Report abuse

Congratulations to your #1 neice, MsJS, and also the Blackhawks. I'm pulling for a Habs/Hawks final, though that prospect slipped considerably yesterday.

Posted by: Yoki | May 23, 2010 6:43 PM | Report abuse

Congrats, MsJS on the Blackhawks win. I am also an Original Six supporter, and I'd really love the Habs to be in the finals, but, well, you know .....

Nevertheless, since my beloved Red Wings flailed out early, and since the Pistons never even got close to the playoffs in basketball, I'm just segueing over to baseball and enjoying the Tigers playing very good ball. They are now 4-2 at the top of the 9th against the LA Dodgers.

I cringe, however, when we get to football season (whether the team is the Redskins or the Lions). I shall enjoy the summer in the meantime. And may you enjoy yours, as well.

Posted by: -ftb- | May 23, 2010 6:43 PM | Report abuse

Now I have a load of white oak. Split some for a test before declaring that loading it, transporting it, and unloading it here was enough toil for a Sunday. It splits nicely. It is NOT sweet gum. Yeah!

Posted by: Jumper1 | May 23, 2010 6:56 PM | Report abuse

Two sorts of NOT Sweet Gum, Jumper? You are living high, my friend.

Posted by: Yoki | May 23, 2010 7:05 PM | Report abuse

And quit collecting your shower drain hair. BP doesn't want it.

Posted by: yellojkt | May 23, 2010 7:24 PM | Report abuse

Mudge, I'm a MRSA leper too, circa 2008.

Does that mean you and I would have to sit at a separate BPH table? Lawd, I hope not.

*aiming mojo healing gun at Mudge and setting on automatic*

Posted by: MsJS | May 23, 2010 7:24 PM | Report abuse

Apologies for the double post. I got distracted by my seven-week-old nephew. My brother-in-law came over with his wife and her mother before the mother had to go back to Japan. The baby got all fussy and wiggly until I sang him to sleep with 'Take It Easy.' At least somebody appreciates it.

Posted by: yellojkt | May 23, 2010 7:30 PM | Report abuse

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

Evening, friends. Just wanted to stop by and say hello. The g-girl has been with me all weekend so I'm more than a little frazzled, but trying to keep up.

Like many of you, I want to cry when I read the kit. I just read the top part, didn't have the heart to go further. I'm sticking with prayers. Anybody want to join me?

Have a good evening, and love to all.

Posted by: cmyth4u | May 23, 2010 7:30 PM | Report abuse


Sorry to hear you are laid up in the hospital. It sounds like you've find something to do with your time. I hope you are feeling bettter soon and can go home.


I believe the doctor said the leg or she could have said both. The lower back isn't good.

Posted by: cmyth4u | May 23, 2010 7:36 PM | Report abuse

There are more errors than comments in both post, please excuse.

Posted by: cmyth4u | May 23, 2010 7:38 PM | Report abuse

Meanwhile BP has been renting up all the boats that can respond to the oil shore events and sequestering them.

Posted by: yellojkt | May 23, 2010 7:42 PM | Report abuse

yello - for reasons I have articulated many times over, I am not claiming that BP is being altruistic. Perhaps they are naught but nasty money-grubbing pelican-hating pigs.

I am claiming that acting in their own economic self interest coincides with doing the right thing ecologically.

The valuable assets in this scenario do not include the well. The assets to be preserved are the oil in the ground and the possibility of extracting it in the future.

And *both* are best protected by shutting this thing down as quickly as is possible.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | May 23, 2010 7:51 PM | Report abuse

Hey Scottynuke, I was thinking that would a glove-bag type enclosure work?

Build the glove bag so that it zips together or something similar. All you need to do then is get the robots to seal the glove bag around the pipe below the hole.

Process goes like this:

1. Construct glove bag.
2. "unzip" bag, allowing it to slide over the pipe/apparatus below the opening.
3. Install glove bag and seal area around hole (clamp?).
4. "zip" it shut.

I'd have to think the material would have to be a reinforced plastic-impregnated metal mesh. Very cold down there.

Posted by: steveboyington | May 23, 2010 8:07 PM | Report abuse

Lotsa PSI down there too, steveboyington...

Whole lotta PSI.

*apologies for the inevitable tune cootie* :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | May 23, 2010 8:17 PM | Report abuse

May I just say? I have been enjoying your oil-related posts tremendously, steveboyington.

Posted by: Yoki | May 23, 2010 8:19 PM | Report abuse

Now I have a load of white oak. Split some for a test before declaring that loading it, transporting it, and unloading it here was enough toil for a Sunday. It splits nicely. It is NOT sweet gum. Yeah!

Posted by: Jumper1 | May 23, 2010 8:23 PM | Report abuse

Howdy y'all. This is a well written if scary story, not one for bedtime.

I was amused by the suggestion that we could send people into space yet not stop this leak. It took years and years of concentrated effort, the ramping up and funding of an entire gummint agency, and an emphasis on specific sciences education for that to happen. We've had, what, a month now to try and figure out how to apply what technology we have to deep ocean environments.

It strikes me that if Obama said oil companies could deep-water drill if they can promise this will never happen again, that wasn't an expression of credulity. As a lawyer I might phrase something like that knowing that the person can't make that promise, purely to give empahsis to my refusal.

Posted by: Ivansmom | May 23, 2010 8:48 PM | Report abuse

An unusual weekend post at Nature's Great Beyond blog on "how much oil"

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | May 23, 2010 8:50 PM | Report abuse

I completely understand your thesis and do think it is mostly correct. There really is no reason for BP to drag this on as long as it has gone if they could have done it earlier. Your theory could be easily proven if and when the well is stopped. Until then I can continue to semi-seriously advance my counter-hypothesis, which seems to be gaining ground. I would love nothing more to have BP stop the well and prove me wrong, but each delay and failed attempt just makes them look either more incompetent or more nefarious depending on your perspective.

Posted by: yellojkt | May 23, 2010 8:53 PM | Report abuse

glad to have you back, TBG.

hoping for a quick recovery and convalescence for you, Mr. Shop Steward.

we are the champions

Posted by: -jack- | May 23, 2010 9:01 PM | Report abuse

Yes, each failure makes them look more incompetent. But the linkage to nefarious simply isn't there.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | May 23, 2010 9:13 PM | Report abuse

Bulletin: A body, and body is right word, with behind exposed due to poor design of hospital gowns generally and this gown specifically, has escaped.

The 'Mudge-like person is said to be heading south towards the Potomac River manses in the Southren aspect of this metropolitan region.


Posted by: CollegeQuaParkian1 | May 23, 2010 9:27 PM | Report abuse

Hi TBG. One of the jokes you missed out made people salivate, but nary a laugh

Meanwhile, I think BP should go to a sex shop and get the biggest butt plug

For the leak,,,

Inother news I've discovered Chalga, Bulgarian pop-folk

YouTube it if you dare, some of it is not safe for work

Posted by: omni3 | May 23, 2010 9:35 PM | Report abuse

just because the word contenders came to mind:

i used to play the introductory portion to my children on my guitar when sleep didn't come easy.

Posted by: -jack- | May 23, 2010 9:43 PM | Report abuse

I am finally finished catching up. Welcome back TBG! I hope Mudge has escaped intact and medicated. Cassandra, good luck. I wish I had your neighbors to "help" me garden. I too love to try and grow plants and I am no good at it at all.

It was a big weekend here - high school graduation for some and successful passage from eighth to ninth grade for the Boy. My cousin cooked extended-family brunch yesterday & I cooked supper. We each inadvertently did a vegetarian menu and I don't think anyone missed meat. Brunch: homemade granola, individual huevos rancheros with green sauce, Dutch baby pancake, pumperickel rounds, vegetable & potato hash, Bloody Mary bar. Supper was heavily dependent on what was available at the farmers' market: Spaghetti with homemade tomato sauce, fresh English peas simmered with butter and mint, asparagus sauteed in butter and lemon, fresh tomato salad with basil and mozzarella chunks, green salad, diced red & yellow bell pepper, fresh baguettes; dessert was croissant-dough remnants baked with sugar glaze, courtesy of the bakery.

Posted by: Ivansmom | May 23, 2010 9:46 PM | Report abuse

Saw The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo this evening. Can't imagine a better adaptation of the novel for a movie length treatment. Much to do, but it's all just time filler until the last book comes out on Tuesday.

Welcome back TBG.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | May 23, 2010 9:50 PM | Report abuse


Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds and shall find me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

- William Ernest Henley

I watched the movie yesterday not knowing it was about Nelson Mandela. Only knowing it had Morgan Freeman.

It's also a very good sports movie at the same time. Can I give it two thumbs up?

Posted by: omni3 | May 23, 2010 9:51 PM | Report abuse

Nice, omni.
Despite an uncharacteristic long afternoon nap I am still tired and headed for bed. Buenos gnocchis, y'all, vaya con queso and fondue.

Posted by: Ivansmom | May 23, 2010 10:02 PM | Report abuse

Psssst! ftb! What say we crash Ivansmom's next party?

Posted by: Yoki | May 23, 2010 10:10 PM | Report abuse

Here's one (safe for work except maybe the bikini shot):

I think this is a sad song, but I've been wrong before.

Some of the Chalga I've listened to reminds of Vera Brynner.

But the woman in the beginning, I think introducing the song...I just love her voice and accent. It sounds very Romany

Posted by: omni3 | May 23, 2010 10:11 PM | Report abuse

I hope mudge has the Lost finale on his DVR. I would hate for him to miss Evangeline Lilly in all that rain.

Posted by: yellojkt | May 23, 2010 10:40 PM | Report abuse

I get the distinct impression that Jumper has a load of white oak.

Posted by: Bob-S | May 23, 2010 11:24 PM | Report abuse

I thought he had two.

Posted by: Yoki | May 23, 2010 11:37 PM | Report abuse

he does have 2, and i would surmise that it is dry, based on his description of how it split. gathered many a dead and down cord in the jefferson national forest. lucky not to have been mistaken for a deer. go hawks.

Posted by: -jack- | May 23, 2010 11:57 PM | Report abuse

"i used to play the introductory portion to my children on my guitar when sleep didn't come easy.

Posted by: -jack- | May 23, 2010 9:43 PM"

good dad, Jack!

Posted by: nellie4 | May 24, 2010 12:06 AM | Report abuse

he does have 2, and i would surmise that it is dry, based on his description of how it split. gathered many a dead and down cord in the jefferson national forest. lucky not to have been mistaken for a deer. go hawks.

Posted by: -jack- | May 24, 2010 12:12 AM | Report abuse

Jumper -- what does sweet gum do when it burns? I see you don't like it, but I don't know why.

A sweet gum was the first tree I admired, learned the name of, bought and planted, in Columbus, Ohio. Before most of you were born. I LOVED those seed pods!

Posted by: nellie4 | May 24, 2010 12:15 AM | Report abuse

rats. the dreaded double post. should've refreshed. noodling about the web, and came up with this, a song that has always been near the top of my list of favourites. this adds the je ne sais quois.

Posted by: -jack- | May 24, 2010 12:17 AM | Report abuse

rather, it explains the je ne sais quois. the pups are out and about, and are showing personality. the are in a pile and sleeping. i think that i'll join them.

Posted by: -jack- | May 24, 2010 12:26 AM | Report abuse

And here I thought you did that on purpose, jack! So witty.

I have to tell you, Boodle, that I am quite proud today. I had lunch with #2 and her boyfriend, Theatre-boy. I was telling them about my adventures with iTunes, and they both heartily endorsed my choice of Weezer (including the song I posted last night)! A 21- and 22-year-old say that Weezer is cool. That makes me the cool Mommy (at least on May 23).

Posted by: Yoki | May 24, 2010 12:33 AM | Report abuse,0,353079,full.story

The Orlando Sentinel had access to Deepwater Horizon's well ticket and other documents, and their reporter Kevin Spear took them to outside experts. I'm no expert so don't know whether they have a big story.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | May 24, 2010 2:03 AM | Report abuse

Hmm. Triple post over much time. Shouldn't happen again.

Now I am dog sitting. Notice this has led to me awake at this hour: guest puppy decided vigorous barking at imaginary nighttime noises (or real coyotes; who knows) is the way to win my respect.

Posted by: Jumper1 | May 24, 2010 3:31 AM | Report abuse

Sweet gum is very difficult to split, Nellie. It also seems to absorb moisture from the air more than other wood. If cut up, it does okay otherwise; thus the motive to not simply discard it. Some ole timers will wait for a hard freeze before splitting it; it halves nicely when frozen solid. It hasn't been that cold here in several years.

The joke is, although I quit laughing long ago, that I have been stuck with a lot of sweetgum wood repeatedly over the years. It's difficult to identify and people bring it over, telling me it's "good hardwood". I felled one myself recently; lightning had struck all identifying bits out of it; it was a denuded trunk standing in the copse. I actually did this to myself, again. The oak was a brief bit of sanity in all this.

Posted by: Jumper1 | May 24, 2010 3:41 AM | Report abuse

Sweetgums in, say, northern Florida seem to be fast-growing non-sturdy trees that you don't want near the house. Outside their native range in places like Oregon, they seem to be well-behaved street trees.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | May 24, 2010 5:27 AM | Report abuse

Instead of playing the blame game our government should be there side by side helping to stop this oil mess. We need to use the Golden Retriever and now. (The Golden Retriever)system is when you lay corn husk onto the top of the oil slick , the corn rolls and absorbs the oil and then it is scooped up and taken to a site to remove the oil from the corn and then the process is repeated over again.Instead our government plays the game of blame instead of helping fix the problem they are the problem.

Posted by: annieandpauldonovan | May 24, 2010 5:51 AM | Report abuse

When we start dealing with millions of gallons of oil an entirely new paradigm for oil abatement needs to be achieved. The traditional mitigation methods just aren't going to cut it.

Posted by: yellojkt | May 24, 2010 6:13 AM | Report abuse

'morning all. Another beautiful day. It hasn't rained significantly since I seeded a large surface of grass a week ago and there is no rain in the forecast for a week. There is still large surfaces (i.e. vast tracts of land) that need to be seeded as well. So people of the Other Federal Capital shall be grateful for the hot and dry start of this summer. My need for a wet spring surely caused this mini heatwage.

I've got to say that the poppies looked spectacular; they love this dry heat. No wonder they do well in Afghanistan.

Fancy flower-wise the tree peonies are stealing the show right now. The silky flowers outshine the remaining tulips, lilacs and giant garlic. The epaulette tree has started to shed its flowers and the Toba hawthorne isn't flowering in full yet; it should peak in a few days.

Off for some more planting. There is still a rescued rose to relocate and the Norway and White Spruce I started in containers a couple of years ago are ready for the in-earth experience.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | May 24, 2010 7:30 AM | Report abuse

I would be interested in hearing boodlers' thoughts regarding Mr. Salazar's statement yesterday that "we" will have to "push BP aside" if BP's efforts prove unsuccessful.
Assuming BP has the equipment,know-how and incentive and are making their best effort, just what are "we" going to do better?

I ask this as a layperson (industry/science-wise) and also as a member of "we".

Happy Monday to all, by the way.

Posted by: talitha1 | May 24, 2010 7:33 AM | Report abuse

Poppies! And tree peonies! Will you come and be my gardener, SD? I'll pay you well...May is a lovely time to drive on the interstates in NC; that's when the poppies bloom in the medians. My favorite beds are the ones with all the colors mixed together, white, red, and pink.

G'morning, everyone, hi Cassandra! I've already been on the walk, with Mr. T. Nothing like a brisk 2.5 miles walk before breakfast to get the blood moving...

Yoki, I'll come along with you and ftb to crash Ivansmom's next party. We can hide in the backyard and raid the buffet table when nobody is looking.

Hope everyone has a pleasant day!

Posted by: slyness | May 24, 2010 7:37 AM | Report abuse

I think it's just frustration talitha. I go back to the medical analogy. Pretty much anyone who has ever had a friend or loved one with some chronic condition knows the frustration of the sluggish pace of medical treatment. But the notion of pushing the doctors out of the way and grabbing the scalpel yourself might not be well advised.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | May 24, 2010 7:49 AM | Report abuse

I really, really do not think it is in anyone's best interest for "the government," per se, to push BP out of the way and take control of stopping the leak. As talitha, and others, have pointed out, BP is the one with the expertise and equipment. This is, literally, what they do for a living.

Where the government might exert some more leadership is in helping BP define the proper risk/benefit ratio. It seems to me that BP has been very cautious in the sequence of steps taken. While this is certainly prudent, there is a point when channeling Bernard Montgomery (just a little snibble there fer Mudge.) stops making sense.

That said, in order to encourage BP to be a bit more aggressive, some coverage against the eventuality of such actions making things even worse must be provided. You can't just tell them to "damn the torpedoes" and then keel haul them when they hit one.

Of course, this will all be moot if the top-kill is successful. Assuming it actually happens.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | May 24, 2010 8:14 AM | Report abuse

Of course, a very good argument could be made that the government should be more aggressive in the clean-up. That said, from Joel's reporting I understand that there is just so much one can do- especially given the underwater oil. Floating oil we can soak up or use booms against. But that underwater sludge? Not sure what can be done.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | May 24, 2010 8:33 AM | Report abuse

Thanks, RD-P. Remember that last week I voiced my scepticism about BP's motivations. At the same time I cannot imagine the administration using this statement as much more than an attempt to appease the public in "our" frustration. (And I don't want to speak about the right's attempts to use the oil spill to poke Obama's eye whenever possible. Well, I just did. ;) )

Posted by: talitha1 | May 24, 2010 8:37 AM | Report abuse

Agree about the clean-up efforts and government's role. The underwater plumes and sunken blobs (technical jargon not my forte') are a horror.

Posted by: talitha1 | May 24, 2010 8:40 AM | Report abuse

Just to make sure I had the military allusion right, I wiki-ed Bernard Montgomery and they had this anecdote:

"The Montgomery cocktail is a martini mixed at a ratio of 15:1, facetiously named that because Montgomery supposedly refused to go into battle unless his numerical advantage was at least that high."

Personally I think BP is acting more like Montgomery Burns.

Pushing BP out of the picture is contingent upon being able to marshal the same level of equipment through sub-contractors already on the job and other third parties. One would hope that BP has already hired anybody that can do anything about this. 'We' (the US taxpayer would then be paying them directly in hopes of being able to bill BP later.

My paradigm for this is when a real estate developer fires the general contractor and turns the project over to the bonding agency for completion. The bonding agency will often re-hire many of the same firms the GC had hired but backcharging the original GC for any extra expense occurred. It never gets cheaper doing it that way, but sometimes it is the only way to finish a project.

Posted by: yellojkt | May 24, 2010 8:40 AM | Report abuse

The COO of BP on NPR flagrantly ignoring the Rule of Holes:

As for the inability to measure the amount of oil, that is a complete and total crock.


The flow rate is the velocity of the fluid times the area of the orifice. You don't need to be 100% accurate on either to get a much better estimate.

They have been x-raying the heck out of this this thing, they have live video, they have all sorts of robots down there to make measurements. They can figure out how big the hole is.

There are also multiple ways to measure velocity. You can open probe it. You can use differential pressures. You can trace map particles. I can't believe they haven't done any of these things since their whole excuse for the delays so far is to understand the magnitude of the effort. Much of that would have to do with pressures and areas and all the things they say they don't know. The whole theory of the top kill is to overpump the leak which means they HAVE to know the pressure and volume needed.

No, nothing is going to be 100% accurate, but to just throw your hands up and say it can't be done is absurd.

And yes, size does matter. Cleaning up 6 billion gallons of oil (5000 bpd x 30 days) is a way different task than cleaning up 400 billion gallons (100,000 bpd x 90 days).

Posted by: yellojkt | May 24, 2010 9:13 AM | Report abuse

New Kit, BTW... With boudin!! :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | May 24, 2010 9:17 AM | Report abuse

There have been many references to Chernobyl as comparable to the Deepwater Horizon oil leak. Not at all,folks, not at all. This is mere hyperbole. According to what I read and hear, Chernobyl has been a fantastic boon to the local environment. Sure, it's terrible for people -- we have relatively long lifetimes, and we value the lives of individuals, which means that we don't like things that kill off individual people when they are relatively young. Moderate levels of radioactivity are not particularly bad for plants. Moderate exposure to radioactivity causes early death in animals, sure, probably with cancers and all kinds of other problems -- but probably not until after they are old enough to reproduce. Because the animals of the Chernobyl area cannot be hunted, and the plants cannot be harvested, it is a refuge from human rapacity. The Deepwater Horizon leak, on the other hand, is the ultimate consequence of human rapacity.

So, the non-human consequences of Chernobyl vs. Deepwater Horizon are quite different. The oil leak is much worse for the environment. Chernobyl is much worse for people. But where people are living off the environment, damage to the environment is paramount for both populations. Thus, the Deepwater Horizon oil leak wins the title for much worse disaster than Chernobyl. Um... hooray.

Posted by: ScienceTim | May 24, 2010 9:19 AM | Report abuse

I spoke too soon; I see from back-boodling that Yoki has actually been to Chernobyl and all is not as I had previously heard. I admit, however, that I am not clear why that should be so. For the soil to be actually toxic to local wildlife, it would have to have a considerable burden of heavy metals introduced from the reactor. I didn't think that that had been the case. Clearly, I must research it more -- next week. This week, I have a proposal to write, and an eerily-related talk to prepare for the Baltimore Science Fiction Convention this coming weekend.

Posted by: ScienceTim | May 24, 2010 9:29 AM | Report abuse

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