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Oil spill: What success looks like

Like most sensible Americans these days, I prefer to observe the LMRP cap via Enterprise ROV1, which gives us the latest image showing oil leaking around the cap and into the gulf. But sometimes I look at Skandi ROV 1 for a different angle.

The caption tells us:

"Daily oil collection will be maximized through maintaining a stable system.

"• Both production trains for processing oil at the surface are in operation.

"• We may leave some of the LMRP cap valves open to ensure system stability - one is currently closed."

They captured 10K barrels Saturday and we'll get the latest update momentarily. Unless I've lost my mind -- and Vegas has that at even odds at the moment -- they're capturing most of the oil, which is the goal.

So that's success. This is what success looks like. It's not exactly pretty, but I'll take it, considering where we were a week ago in the wake of the top kill failure.

It's obvious that BP wasn't ready for a blowout and had, as its backup plan, prayer, supplemented by hands over eyes and nee-nee-nee-nee chittering in hopes of reality-blocking. The government regulators, meanwhile, didn't regulate, and apparently are the folks that teenagers should go to if they want permission to ride motorcycles without helmets and buy MD 20-20 and whatnot. The Space Age technology was Bronze Age in key respects. So bad things happened. This crisis is going to go on for a long time (see the story on the Ixtoc spill, etc. that David Brown and I had in yesterday's paper).

But you have to give props to the engineers who got the cap to work and to the ROV operators and the folks handling that explosive hydrocarbon geyser up on the surface ship. Keep going!

--

gas_burning_day.jpg

The Enterprise flaring gas from the Deepwater Horizon well. Copyright BP p.l.c.


Update 2:43 p.m.: Thad Allen said this morning that they're capturing 11K barrels and bringing in another ship to handle the flow because the one they got only processes 15K barrels a day max. I had the same thought as boodler yellojkt, that Allen essentially said, "We're gonna need a bigger boat" (Richard Dreyfuss? Or Roy Scheider? No googling the answer, you should just know...)

Yellojkt writes:

Not to be fashionably cynical but I am trying to parse the sudden realization that they are going to need a bigger boat (to evoke a phrase from another ocean disaster story). Does this mean:

a) BP really didn't expect this to work so well and made no provisions for actually processing the oil they are getting.

b) BP has grossly underestimated the amount of oil being leaked and is only now dealing with realization of how much oil is actually flowing.

c) BP knew they were going to need more capacity but decided to leave assets at more profitable locations until the last possible moment.

d) BP had no intention of capturing the full flow until browbeaten by the Coast Guard or others to up the volume.

e) Any or all of the above.

If you had to fashion a narrative, which story would you stick to?

It's the right question and I would not presume the answer without more reporting, but I was a little surprised that the second ship wasn't right there on hand and that they're only now bringing in vessels from as far away as the North Sea.


--

Yay for Gene and Dan and their new comic strip! Gonna be bigger than Peanuts!

By Joel Achenbach  |  June 7, 2010; 9:05 AM ET
 
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Comments

Success? Just judging by appearances, the spewing has been cut by about half since they cut-off the riser pipes. There could still be 10,000 barrells per day being released, and its going to go on for another month or two.

As long as any significant oil is spewing into the gulf, more oil will be accumulating than they can skim off, the mood in the gulf will be grim, the national politics will be toxic. This is no success.

Posted by: HuckFinn | June 7, 2010 10:11 AM | Report abuse

Crickets.

Posted by: kguy1 | June 7, 2010 10:11 AM | Report abuse

The thing is, Mr. A, at this point we don't know whether more oil or less was spilling into the Gulf before they lopped off the riser pipe and put on the new top cap.

Posted by: MsJS | June 7, 2010 10:12 AM | Report abuse

Thinking of space age technology, a lot of it really is bronze age, or at least from the 1960s. The Kennedy Space Center is something of a historic site, with the old industrial buildings still in use. Maybe a bit like that Portland, Maine baked beans factory, or DuBois Budweiser's brewery, which would be a quaint mecca had it remained in operation long enough for craft brewing to become fashionable.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | June 7, 2010 10:14 AM | Report abuse

Whew, thought I'd wandered into a remake of "Day of the Triffids" or one of those zombie movies like "Omega Man" where everybody's dead and the Boodle is deserted.

Posted by: kguy1 | June 7, 2010 10:15 AM | Report abuse

Latest from Dept. of Unintended Irony -

http://consumerist.com/2010/06/if-only-bp-would-follow-the-advice-on-its-own-signs.html

Posted by: kguy1 | June 7, 2010 10:19 AM | Report abuse

The latest from spoof twitter feed #BPGlobalPR:

"Try our cap operation at home! Hold a funnel over a firehose, sell what you catch and proclaim victory! #bpwins"

Success if narrowly defined as 'installing a system that captures any oil whatsoever' has been achieved. By any reasonable estimate, the amount of oil still leaking into the GoM is at least double the original 5,000 bpd and the total leak is likely well north of the 25,000 bpd which was the high end of the revised estimate.

Methinks BP realizes that this is winning the battle but losing the war and already has other plans in place. Last night an ROV spent over six hours trying to loosen a bolt that had nothing to do with the spill. Sure sounds like a dress rehearsal for a more invasive operation.

Posted by: yellojkt | June 7, 2010 10:19 AM | Report abuse

I see I've maintained my perfect Kit prediction record... :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | June 7, 2010 10:19 AM | Report abuse

Well, you were pretty close, Scotty.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | June 7, 2010 10:29 AM | Report abuse

How good a multitasker are you?

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/07/technology/07brain.html

Posted by: yellojkt | June 7, 2010 10:30 AM | Report abuse

I found that article about the Ixtoc spill fascinating because of the way the progression of attempted fixes has been recapitulated now.

The ambiguity of the current situation makes it difficult to relate to. We are told that things are going better, but we still see an awful lot of oil escaping. As a result we are lacking the kind of dramatic climax that we crave. There hasn't been some epic final battle after which we can cheer wildly and break out the good stuff.

It's sort of like when people survive a stroke. Even when the long-term prognosis is good there is the realization that there is a lot of hard work ahead, and that things might never be exactly the way they were before.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | June 7, 2010 10:30 AM | Report abuse

yello, I caught a bit of that bolt video too. I felt I was watching a toddler with her/his first plastic tool kit.

Posted by: MsJS | June 7, 2010 10:31 AM | Report abuse

In which way, 'Mudge? That the ROVs resemble crayfish? :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | June 7, 2010 10:32 AM | Report abuse

I am very impressed with the inaugural edition of "Barney and Clyde." It made me laugh in a wonderfully unexpected way.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | June 7, 2010 10:34 AM | Report abuse

BP has said that there are additional approaches in the works. Like I said, this isn't a once and done solution. The war metaphor is useful, though. This crisis appears to be ending sort of like the War in Iraq. Gradual, sporadic, and with no desire to pop champagne.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | June 7, 2010 10:37 AM | Report abuse

Quit drinking the PR Kool-Ade, Joel. Right now they are distracting you with the captured numbers while ignoring or letting pass the old obviously inaccurate total numbers.

'Most' is such a slippery technical term. Anywhere above 50% qualifies, but it implies much more than that. The TopCat has four ports and one pipe on the top. Right now oil is going up one pipe and out three ports as well as 'spilling' out the bottom around the entire circumference. If you had to make a guess based just on that information, where would you think 'most' of the oil is going?

Posted by: yellojkt | June 7, 2010 10:39 AM | Report abuse

Uh, no. I just wanted to try to cheer you up a little. I figured, yanno, at least you were talking about stuff from Louisiana and the Gulf.

Did you know that "crayfish" is an anagram of "crashify"?

Hey, it's a Monday morning. That's all I got, which is nuthin'.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | June 7, 2010 10:41 AM | Report abuse

BP, from the beginning, had only one interest. The preservation of that well. They had no desire to seal it off, only to keep pumping oil from it. This was not in the best interest of our environment. It was in the best interest of BP.

Posted by: bobbo2 | June 7, 2010 10:45 AM | Report abuse

Yello - that there are more valves than pipe tells us absolutely nothing. The flowrate is determined by a lot more than simple diameter. Maybe BP is foolin' us, but fashionable cynicism isn't a particularly reliable way of assessing the status of a situation either.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | June 7, 2010 10:45 AM | Report abuse

Yeah, pumping all the mud was just a clever ruse.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | June 7, 2010 10:51 AM | Report abuse

On my way to a meeting in a minute or two, but popping in long enough to ask if the bunker is ready for the expected onslaught (although we've been lucky enough lately to hook in a goodly number of new (and very good) boodlers). Gotta be prepared, though.

Congrats to MSJS for last night's hockey game win. And to Celtics fans, too. I, for one, do *not* like the Lakers. Go Green Guys!

But, again, I've got no skin in either game, so, you know, *whatever*.

Gotta go.

Posted by: -ftb- | June 7, 2010 10:53 AM | Report abuse

RD_P, success is going to be defined differently by different people.

One measure I would look to is if the spill rate into the Gulf is lower now than it was before the riser pipe got sheared off.

And those before-and-after measurements aren't available and probably won't ever be.

So what we have is BP's word for it.

BP's credibility doesn't score well on my meter at present. And for what it's worth, BP's stock is down about $0.70 from its opening level of $38.10, so the markets aren't buying into it either.

I am anxious too hear what else BP is going to try, but withhold any words like 'success' until I see some hard data.

Posted by: MsJS | June 7, 2010 11:00 AM | Report abuse

I get where Joel's headed here, but disagree with his choice of words: I'd prefer to call it "progress." Success, to me at least, implies recapture of vrtually all of the oil, and obviously we ain't there yet.

As regards BP's attempts at spin, even my dogs (West Highland terriers) don't buy it. Two nights ago there was a segment about Tony Hayward on the news, and Brigid (the younger of the two, and an avid TV watcher) was growling every time he was on the screen. My wife and I couldn't stop laughing...

Posted by: lee54 | June 7, 2010 11:13 AM | Report abuse

We obviously need lee and Brigid here as regulars. Welcome.

Posted by: -dbG- | June 7, 2010 11:20 AM | Report abuse

RD,
I'm just trying to keep people from getting distracted by the shiny object. By applying some common sense path-of-least resistance mass flow balancing to the entire system, it's clear that BP is once again overstating its progress to only have to back-pedal when they move on to the next new and improved strategy.

That they got this thing working at all is a decent proof of concept, but now it seems they are hamstrung by a lack of processing capacity at the top end which leads me to believe that they were either believing their own propaganda or they are just more incompetent at guessing the flow than I realized.

My first snarky gut reaction was to say "If this is what success looks like, I'd hate to see failure." but over the past month we have seen all too clearly what failure does look like. And 'success' isn't looking like much of an improvement so far.

Posted by: yellojkt | June 7, 2010 11:23 AM | Report abuse

russian roller.

Posted by: russianthistle | June 7, 2010 11:29 AM | Report abuse

Daily Telegraph on evidence of life on Titan:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/space/7805069/Titan-Nasa-scientists-discover-evidence-that-alien-life-exists-on-Saturns-moon.html

Posted by: engelmann | June 7, 2010 11:36 AM | Report abuse

bobbo,
RD and a lot of other intelligent commenters here and other places have convinced me that this particular well is a complete write-off and will never be used again, even if it could. So now the only carrot left is BP's desire to ever drill a well again.

With its depressed stock price, raiders, vultures, and short sellers are already circling.

BP's recovery efforts are funded through a self-insured subsidiary, so the continued financial viability of BP is must if this process is to continue the way it is going. The patient has to be kept alive long enough to write the hospital a check rather than having to fight for the money in probate.


On the PR front, this will soon be a 'what not to do' case study. Seeing that full page ad in the dead trees WaPo every morning just makes my blood boil.

One of my benchmarks for a turning point would be stating that more oil is being captured and cleaned-up than is spilling. I don't see that happening for quite some time.

Posted by: yellojkt | June 7, 2010 11:37 AM | Report abuse

Here's the latest report:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/06/07/AR2010060700433.html?hpid=topnews


Thad is reporting that a new vessel is coming to handle the gradually increasing flow.

So, yes, real progress is being made. The point I took from Joel's kit is that any expectation of a dramatic "victory" is misguided. And if people insist that nothing except this sort of complete instantaneous climax to this crisis is acceptable, well, they are going to be grievously dissapointed.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | June 7, 2010 11:40 AM | Report abuse

jkt, I think BP should focus their considerable energies on raising the potato chip sales at their stations.

Posted by: russianthistle | June 7, 2010 12:06 PM | Report abuse

Their coffee could use a lotta help as well, Weed.

Or maybe it's a latte help.

Oh, I'm so confused! Must go grill lunch to clear my head.

Posted by: MsJS | June 7, 2010 12:11 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for the Ixtoc I article. I experienced it. June '79 it blew out. I guess those crabs that got wiped out are "ghost crabs" which for some reason I never knew the right name for even though I grew up going to Florida beaches for years. Hurricane Allen made landfall on the Texas coast in early August of 1980,
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hurricane_Allen
burying much of the stink of the oil and piled seaweed above the surf line which then began to decompose and smell also, but added a lot of biomass to the beach and seemed to help biodigestion of a lot of the petroleum. Finally the crabs came back. However, buried asphalt was found if one dug on the beach for months and years. Kids hands turned black digging sandcastles.

I wrote a long piece a while back about that year in Texas. I still haven't posted it; my mother reads my website.

Posted by: Jumper1 | June 7, 2010 12:13 PM | Report abuse

MsJS, did you say that because you know that I am a coffee expert?

Posted by: russianthistle | June 7, 2010 12:17 PM | Report abuse

Neither that well nor the relief well will be used for production. By industry standards the exploratory well was a big success except for the, uh, problem. Drilling other wells nearby is what they want. I would guess not for a while. Wonder if BP will continue to hold their part of the lease.

Posted by: Jumper1 | June 7, 2010 12:19 PM | Report abuse

lee54 and Brigid! No dog is ever replaced, and the boodle has lost some beloved ones of late. But poetic, psychic or just plain loveable ones are always welcomed. Their friends, too!

Posted by: talitha1 | June 7, 2010 12:19 PM | Report abuse

Jes' wondering... Anyone read this weekend's Parade? :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | June 7, 2010 12:22 PM | Report abuse

Weed, that's good to know.

I've been meaning to talk with someone about the bunker coffee. Mudge, are funds available to upgrade the beans?

Posted by: MsJS | June 7, 2010 12:27 PM | Report abuse

Home page reporting Helen Thomas is retiring...

Posted by: Scottynuke | June 7, 2010 12:33 PM | Report abuse

Off kit alert - yello, I took the sidebar quiz in that "how good are you at multi-tasking?" link you posted earlier. I had trouble interpreting the results on the second part. Did you take it?

Posted by: talitha1 | June 7, 2010 12:36 PM | Report abuse

In light of Snuke's bulletin, yello, never mind. We'd all have a headache!

Posted by: talitha1 | June 7, 2010 12:42 PM | Report abuse

Regarding BP and PR, it seems like someone would have the sense not to call the oil being brought to the surface through the dome "production". It doesn't serve to dispell the opinions of folks like bobbo and (formerly) yello that BP's only interest here is to keep the well operating.

Posted by: tomsing | June 7, 2010 12:43 PM | Report abuse

I took it and had very high numbers which seem to be good on the first test but bad on the second one.

Posted by: yellojkt | June 7, 2010 1:04 PM | Report abuse

So if I read Joel right, success means the original donkey has been upgraded to a Clydesdale, but we're now capturing a few tablespoonfuls per dump?

What are we running, boutique horse manure manufacture? Cork that pony ASAP.


Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | June 7, 2010 1:04 PM | Report abuse

(Clever allusions to the Aegean Stables are welcome.)

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | June 7, 2010 1:05 PM | Report abuse

Now that she has said a few brutally bad statements, Helen Thomas has to think: what would Ann Coulter do?

Posted by: steveboyington | June 7, 2010 1:08 PM | Report abuse

I guess that was Helen Thomas' equivalent of wearing purple.

Posted by: rashomon | June 7, 2010 1:19 PM | Report abuse

Scotty, I usually only the Q&A on the first page but I dug it out of the recycle bin to see why you asked. Very nice!

Beautiful crystal clear day here with some pretty fluffy clouds. I'm doing some perennial planting after having torn out most of the heliotrope - that stuff is worse than weeds!

Posted by: badsneakers | June 7, 2010 1:31 PM | Report abuse

Not to be fashionably cynical but I am trying to parse the sudden realization that they are going to need a bigger boat (to evoke a phrase from another ocean disaster story). Does this mean:

a) BP really didn't expect this to work so well and made no provisions for actually processing the oil they are getting.

b) BP has grossly underestimated the amount of oil being leaked and is only now dealing with realization of how much oil is actually flowing.

c) BP knew they were going to need more capacity but decided to leave assets at more profitable locations until the last possible moment.

d) BP had no intention of capturing the full flow until browbeaten by the Coast Guard or others to up the volume.

e) Any or all of the above.

If you had to fashion a narrative, which story would you stick to?

Posted by: yellojkt | June 7, 2010 1:31 PM | Report abuse

SCC: I usually only 'read'. FYI, if you spot a typo while the browser is spinning, it's still too late to fix it ;-(

Posted by: badsneakers | June 7, 2010 1:33 PM | Report abuse

I have to post this as it is a boodle first for me, 100% on the first part of yellows test. Just wanted to brag before I move to the second phase and may have my ego shattered. Note to new people, we often have quizzes, as you can guess most of the regulars do very well, me not so much.

Posted by: dmd3 | June 7, 2010 1:37 PM | Report abuse

Second results are more difficult to read but it would seem I am an off the scale multi-tasker, interesting that the multi-taskers are slower in their responses.

Posted by: dmd3 | June 7, 2010 1:44 PM | Report abuse

What is so interesting is that the Achenblog may very well be the only site for sane discussion at the WaPo web universe. I just finished a painful session of comment reading associated with the Helen Thomas comments/retirement story.

Only one word ... WOW. I share the planet with those people. Worse, I share the United States of America with them.

Posted by: russianthistle | June 7, 2010 1:49 PM | Report abuse

I don't have the nerve to try the NY Times quizzes. I've already been demonstrated to be highly distractable in combination with having poor short-term memory.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | June 7, 2010 1:50 PM | Report abuse

I scored "2"s on the first part which means 100% if I read it correctly.

My scores are sort of middle of the board on the "response" portion, so am I a semi-multi-tasker? I can knit accurately in the dark while watching a movie . . . that's gotta count for something.

Posted by: talitha1 | June 7, 2010 1:55 PM | Report abuse

Hey everybody, I hope the bunker is in good shape. I left it clean and fully stocked a week ago. Mr. T and I are having a wonderful time on vacation. Had a great time running around London and the Midlands, now we're in Germany for the world's biggest fire trade show. Mr. T says we walked ten miles today, my feet agree with that statement.

I'm thrilled there is progress in the Gulf, small as it may be. The British papers were full of the problems BP faces in overcoming the leak, the financial outfall, and the PR disaster. I hope they fix the first soon.

More later, it's time to take a shower where we are...

Posted by: slyness | June 7, 2010 1:56 PM | Report abuse

Weed, I find it too painful to read comment boards on news stories any longer. I'm embarrassed for the people there and want to start posting rebuttals which only feeds the madness, of course. I do lurk occasionally just to know what we're up against. 8-]

Posted by: talitha1 | June 7, 2010 2:00 PM | Report abuse

Re: Helen.

I was saddened to her her comments. I got the feeling she felt she was being provoked and decided to give it right back. (We used to accept that Old Ladies had the right to get crotchety and say impolitic things; sometimes it seems they are the only ones refusing to give a hoot what anyone thinks and give it to you straight) I wonder what else went on that wasn't released on the video?

Still, it was a dumb statement to make.
Like the fall of Dan Rather, what a sad end to a notable career.

Now that I've defended her, perhaps the boodle can advise me on stocking a bunker?

Posted by: j3hess | June 7, 2010 2:01 PM | Report abuse

Hey, slyness! Glad you're enjoying yourselves. We're off the front page after a brief sojourn, replaced by Helen Thomas's resignation, so the bunker's safe.
Happy travels.

Posted by: talitha1 | June 7, 2010 2:04 PM | Report abuse

rt,
I wouldn't even begin to fathom what sort of vitriol the Helen Thomas remark would elicit nor do I intend to find out. Her statement was rather unfortunate and she probably should have retired many years ago. It's just a shame she has to go out on this note.

Posted by: yellojkt | June 7, 2010 2:05 PM | Report abuse

Yello - the cynicism is in attributing either gross incompetence or nefarious intent to every decision BP has made since 20 April.

Yes, given the expectation that the flow would ramp up slowly they might have always planned on bringing in more ships as needed. It is the dark implication that the profit motive drove this decision that I question.

Perhaps, given limited resources those ships and the people needed to operate them were doing something more useful than sitting around waiting for the first ship to fill up.

Yes, BP is making things up as they go along. They are operating from a position of greater ignorance than they should be. But, it seems to me, the original sin was in tolerating the conditions that led to this situation in the first place. To me, that's indictment enough.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | June 7, 2010 2:06 PM | Report abuse

The Helen Thomas story brings up a subject my husband and I were discussing last evening. He had had an unpleasant experience in a store, an older gentleman a few aisles away was kicking up a fuss yelling at someone to get out of the middle of the aisle! Later when they were checking out he noted the older gentleman was with a couple - perhaps his children. It seems he had been yelling at another couple in the store, of a certain ethnic background and proceed to announce loudly his complaints against their standing in the middle of the aisle and their ethic group. My husband began to get very angry, and put his head down when he looked up he met (the daughters eyes), she could tell from his face he was angry and she gave a helpless face and rolled her eyes.

We spoke about how/who could have addressed the situation - how do you give respect for someone older (who may or may not have all their mental facilities) but not let an ugly racial slur go without reprimand.

Posted by: dmd3 | June 7, 2010 2:12 PM | Report abuse

There is an important difference between being cynical, which is a personal problem, an attitude problem, and being skeptical, which is always a good way to approach press releases and other attempts to manage public opinion, no matter the source.

For example, today the Coast Guard says they could not have, or at least did not anticipate the oil being "disaggregated" into "hundreds of thousands" of slicks.

Well, what did they think was being sprayed out of those tankers? What does the word "dispersant" mean? Surely they didn't think it meant gone, cleaned up, disappeared. At least the CG has figured out the clean up, what ever that means, will take years and not just a few more months.

Posted by: shrink2 | June 7, 2010 2:17 PM | Report abuse

Good to hear from slyness!

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | June 7, 2010 2:19 PM | Report abuse

Despite their claims to the contrary, BP is still doing this project on the cheap. Thad Allen had to force them to start a second relief well and they have been half-hearted at that. The booming and shore clean-up efforts have been ludicrously inadequate. The statements of Tony Hayward have been dismissive at best and drip with insincerity. I have yet to see one example of where BP did the right thing right away.

I am assuming there are many, many hardworking, dedicated, and competent people down in the trenches, but BP as a corporate entity has been behaving to form and living down to my expectations. They have earned my cynicism.

Posted by: yellojkt | June 7, 2010 2:22 PM | Report abuse

BP has given up the "next 12 to 24 hours" jargon. They are now using "several days" in an effort to buy time.

From a PR perspective, this may backfire. Now that the goo is showing up in more places, the patience of those directly impacted is going to dissipate quickly.

BTW, Thad Allen is for greater access for the media.
http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5hZ9BkEaoAT13rihmXcWM8kZUV-nQD9G6IPTO0

Posted by: MsJS | June 7, 2010 2:25 PM | Report abuse

That's a good point shrink. It's about attitude. It's the difference between demanding a high standard of proof when presented with statistics, and assuming that they are naturally lies.

Yello - you are entirely within your right to be cynical. Goodness knows I am cynical about certain things. But why chastise Joel for "drinking the PR Kool-Ade"?

I think Joel is smarter than that and can make up his own mind when he is being hogswaggled.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | June 7, 2010 2:35 PM | Report abuse

rd,
It's not a matter of holding tank capacity, it's a matter of processing capacity. The processed fuel is off-loaded to other ships. It obviously takes a great deal of time to reposition assets, but clearly they aren't throwing everything they have at it if something like this catches them short.

They either didn't know one ship wasn't going to do the job or they didn't care. Neither reflects well on them.

Posted by: yellojkt | June 7, 2010 2:38 PM | Report abuse

Adm Allen misstates the findings of his "flow rate technical group". In particular, he is wrong in asserting that the group said the upper limit of the leak rate is in the range between 19,000 bbl/day and 25,000 bbl/day.

It appears that he has gotten his information from the USGS press release on the group's findings which, according to some group members, did not make clear that there had been no conclusion as to what might be the upper limit and associated uncertainties.

Sharyl Atkinson disputed Adm Allen on this point in the round table section of yesterday's on Face the Nation. Transcript at http://www.cbsnews.com/htdocs/pdf/FTN_060610.pdf?tag=cbsnewsTwoColUpperPromoArea

Posted by: myers131 | June 7, 2010 2:43 PM | Report abuse

The problem is that BP is working in a research and development environment, not one of established engineering expertise.

In an R%D environment ignorance isn't incompetence. Saying you are unsure of something, or getting something wrong, or being surprised when things don't go the way you expected isn't necessarily, an indication of incompetence. It means that you are venturing into new territory.

So the problem, to me, is that BP should never have allowed themselves to be put in a position of having to rely on real-time Research and Development.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | June 7, 2010 2:47 PM | Report abuse

Years ago I was lunching with a friend Sharon and her elderly great aunt Martha. In the midst of the meal Martha rather loudly asked my friend to "tell that (n-word) to bring me some more iced tea." Knowing Aunt Martha as we did, we both knew that remonstrance would only yield greater volume. Sharon had a quiet word with the waitress and we both left double the usual tip.

I don't think there is really any good way to deal with a situation like this. You can't change such people, you either shun them or you suffer their prejudices. Maybe you try to remonstrate in private, but I know at least in Martha's case that would have been pointless. It's a tough call, because you don't want to seem to be in agreement by silent acceptance but you also don't want to make an even bigger scene and perhaps embarrass the innocent person who's the object of the slur.

Posted by: kguy1 | June 7, 2010 2:48 PM | Report abuse

The problem is that BP is working in a research and development environment, not one of established engineering expertise.

In an R%D environment ignorance isn't incompetence. Saying you are unsure of something, or getting something wrong, or being surprised when things don't go the way you expected isn't necessarily, an indication of incompetence. It means that you are venturing into new territory.

So the problem, to me, is that BP should never have allowed themselves to be put in a position of having to rely on real-time Research and Development.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | June 7, 2010 2:48 PM | Report abuse

I was a little harsh on Joel, but this post comes off a little cheerleaderish. What the engineers and workers at BP have done is a huge technical accomplishment, but this level of heroics shouldn't have been necessary in the first place. Drawing too much oil up is a good problem to have, but it was foreseeable. An oil Drum commenter keeps using this joke:

"Welp, that there looks to me like a 5-gallon pile of horsepucky we gotta clean up."
"I dunno boss, looks like at least 10 gallons to me."
"Nope. 5 gallons, I'm sure of it."
"How do you know?"
"'Cause I only brought a 5-gallon bucket."

This is the first modicum of good news in nearly six weeks, but keep the champagne chilled. Perhaps we have turned the tide, but there have been too many false hope raised in the past.

Posted by: yellojkt | June 7, 2010 2:51 PM | Report abuse

RD_P, if one reads articles from the 'early' days of deepwater drilling (i.e., 2005-07), it's clear that all involved were making things up as they went along because what they thought would happen often didn't. Snafu's were, in fact, the norm. The huge potential payback made it worthwhile.

Relying on real-time R&D is the oil industry's way of doing things. It's a high-risk, scramble to make it work environment in which many burn out and few succeed.

One main difference this time is that the snafu's effects are being felt by tens of thousands and witnessed by hundreds of millions.

Posted by: MsJS | June 7, 2010 3:00 PM | Report abuse

And The Onion's take:

Massive Flow Of Bull**** Continues To Gush From BP Headquarters
http://tinyurl.com/2e893xx

The original url had a Wirty Dird in it.

Posted by: yellojkt | June 7, 2010 3:08 PM | Report abuse

Yello it's entirely in their self-interest to do this right so you're suggestion that they don't care doesn't ring true. I think they're facing an existential crisis, along with the entire oil industry in the Gulf of Mexico -- think there will be any deepwater drilling permits in 6 months? That moratorium is bound to be extended serially until at least after Nov. 2012 is my guess.

In any case, I updated the kit and added yello's conjecture...

Posted by: joelache | June 7, 2010 3:17 PM | Report abuse

And speaking of Gene Weingarten, I am concerned that he and Tom cut their Post Hunt chat short. I really hope this isn't because they were getting too much anger over the Touchdown puzzle. I hate to think that there are many people in this region who are *that* competitive.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | June 7, 2010 3:30 PM | Report abuse

Mr. A, I believe it was Roy. And no, I didn't look it up.

Posted by: MsJS | June 7, 2010 3:36 PM | Report abuse

My sense is that this has become an ethical dilemma for many- hopefully, ALL- of BP's upper management: How do you provide truthful information to the public and shareholders without driving the company's stock price into the basement? While I would hope that anyone would want to be perfectly candid as to what's actually happening, once they saw the stock tickers last week, people with a financial stake will be tempted to act to preserve the value of that holding. After all, this is business, and BP makes their money selling oil, not cleaning it up. That said, I have to wonder if this episode has managed to convince them that it's more profitable, in all senses of the word, to not have to clean up spilled oil, i.e. an ounce of prevevntion equals 40,000 pounds of cure (at a depth of 5,000 feet.)

Posted by: lee54 | June 7, 2010 3:36 PM | Report abuse

The Redskins certainly aren't, RD_P...

And it was Scheider's character who noted the need for a bigger boat, of course. :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | June 7, 2010 3:37 PM | Report abuse

Lee, I'm not sure it's so much an ethical dilemma as it is a creative spin one.

I'm not saying anyone's lying, but we all know that information given out in a particular way tends to elicit certain responses.

As for BP stock, it's currently trading down $0.43 from yesterday's close.

Posted by: MsJS | June 7, 2010 3:43 PM | Report abuse

Finally some good news with a bit of classic Joel humor even if it still reflects the unbelievably (now believable)ineptitude of BP project disaster recovery planning. Somebody (um, our government) better be checking the rest of the BP well DR plans.

Posted by: Windy3 | June 7, 2010 3:54 PM | Report abuse

I won't believe BP until an independent trusted source sees and measures the oil filling up the tanks on board.

Posted by: Jumper1 | June 7, 2010 3:55 PM | Report abuse

Off topic but on boodle:

Steig L's books AND COPYEDITING article about

'hornet's nest'
'hornets' nest'

OOOOhhhhhh.

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/13/books/review/InsideList-t.html

Posted by: CollegeQuaParkian1 | June 7, 2010 4:07 PM | Report abuse

Bad visual image alert. A somewhat silver lining to the unfortunate Helen Thomas incident: at least there is no threat of Helen and Charles Krauthammer getting together now.

Posted by: steveboyington | June 7, 2010 4:21 PM | Report abuse

Joel,

Thanks for taking my rantings seriously. I heartily agree that it is in BP's best interest to do this right, which is why I am so confused when they habitually don't. If I were grading them on a curve, I would give their overall response a B- when they should be going for all the extra credit they can get.

People do things counter to their best interests all the time (Re: teabaggers and health care reform) so the mystery becomes whether it is cultural or deliberate.

My biggest beef hasn't been their general incompetence, they seem to be quick learners, but their general obfuscation over the enormity of the damage. And here is where I grow cynical. Fines and other punishments are based on the total volume spilled, so BP has a fiduciary interest in minimizing this while maintaining plausible deniability on their knowledge of the true rates.

Several people involved with the Flow Rate Technical Group have claimed that their work as been misrepresented. They say that they were establishing the lower bound and never attempted to estimate the upper limit. Every time better information has become available, the flow rate has gone up, so I feel very justified in always adding a BPIABOLB factor to any number peripherally affiliated with them.

Posted by: yellojkt | June 7, 2010 4:23 PM | Report abuse

Now that the Coast Guard is stressing their surprise, the dispersant actually worked and is vastly complicating the clean up effort (who knows where it went, or when it will be somewhere else, millions of gallons are MIA), it seems clear the decision to disperse the oil was made by *someone else*.

I have heard Lisa Jackson cite "expert opinion" and, "what we knew at the time." It was a momentous decision, regrettable I believe.

It seemed pretty amazing back when all that oil was flowing out of the ground and for so many days and everything was staying clean. Then the oil started showing up en masse in marshlands miles past surface containment booms. Uh Oh! To this day I have not heard anyone at BP acknowledge the existence of subsurface oil, as if it flew there.

Anyway Joel, a little investigative report on who made the decision to use the greatest quantity of dispersant ever, would be greatly appreciated. It could be sort of a tag onto what success looks like.

Posted by: shrink2 | June 7, 2010 4:29 PM | Report abuse

Unmentioned by the WaPo and most other sources covering this story for the last three weeks is the actual name of the ship in question, much less a comprehensive description of what she does.

She is the Discoverer Enterprise, owned by Transocean, the contractor that also owned the Deepwater Horizon. Here is a description of her and her capabilities. http://www.deepwater.com/fw/main/Discoverer-Enterprise-141.html

Here is a video about her construction and use.

She was launched in 1999 and is the first of her class. Her two sisterships are the Discoverer Sprit and the Discoverer Deep Seas.

One of Transocean's competitors is Global Marine, Inc., which owns the famous Glomar Explorer amny of you have probably heard about. She, too, is a drillship.

Another company, Pride International, is building four drillships, two to be launched this year for use by BP in the Gulf of Mexico.

Current "state-of-the-art" drillships are what's called "sixth generation," can drill in water up wo 12,000 feet deep, and can drill down 40,000 feet. Of course whether anyone *should* be doing this, and whether there are adequare safety measures, etc., are completely independent questions with a heavily political and environmental, rather than nautical, questions. And be that as it may, there's not much one can do when faced with cascading human errors that have little to do with technology, per se.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | June 7, 2010 4:34 PM | Report abuse

Some things just make me smile-

http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0610/38212.html

Posted by: kguy1 | June 7, 2010 4:36 PM | Report abuse

Hornets nest. If "cattle barn" is okay, then "rabbits hutch" and "hornets nest" are okay. I dare anyone to tell me it's "cattle's barn." And yellojkt, I blame you.

Posted by: Jumper1 | June 7, 2010 4:40 PM | Report abuse

A second-hand direct quote:

Gibbs: The amount of oil that leaks will help determine the fine that BP incurs, so while our interests align on capping this well, we would never ask BP to tell us how much oil they think has leaked in order for us to determine the compensation and penalties that is to be derived from it.


Posted by: yellojkt | June 7, 2010 4:40 PM | Report abuse

Shrink, obviously I'm no scientist. But I've been having nightmares about the dispersants ever since (six weeks ago) I did a little research on them . . . their composition, their effects and who manufactures them. Grrrrrr.

Posted by: talitha1 | June 7, 2010 4:43 PM | Report abuse

Oops: link to video: http://www.deepwater.com/_filelib/FileCabinet/movies/Ent2.mpg?FileName=Ent2.mpg

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | June 7, 2010 4:47 PM | Report abuse

Naw, that'aint right. Cattle is plural for cow (really) and I have heard the term cow barn, as in, "Get that shovel over in the cow barn." But since hornet is singular and hornets is plural, it seems to me it has to be hornets' nest.

Posted by: shrink2 | June 7, 2010 4:47 PM | Report abuse

...and wouldn't ya know. Guess who is the nation's top supplier of military jet fuel? Uh huh.

http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSN0414111820100604

REUTERS
U.S. EPA hands tied on tough BP sanctions
Fri, Jun 4 2010

* EPA to weigh sanctions' effects on military, economy

* EPA waiting for US investigation before weighing options

* BP US government contracts worth billions

By Timothy Gardner

WASHINGTON, June 4 (Reuters) - BP (BP.L: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) Plc's role as the top supplier of jet fuel to the U.S. military may delay U.S. environmental regulators from barring the company's lucrative government contracts even if BP is eventually found to have broken laws in the Gulf of Mexico oil spill disaster.

As a result of the spill, the Environmental Protection Agency will consider its options in limiting future BP government contracts, worth billions of dollars, in a process known as debarment.
Before doing so, the EPA needs information from the federal investigation announced this week into the disaster that killed 11 workers and led to the worst oil spill in the country's history, said a source at the agency who did not want to be named.

Some sanctions barring contracts are automatically triggered at specific production units of a company, such as a factory or refinery, after the company is convicted of violating federal clean air and clean water laws.

But an agency can impose far wider sanctions barring nearly all of a company's future government contracts -- even without convictions -- if it finds a company has had a pattern of dangerous behavior.

As the United States fights wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the EPA may be hard pressed to bar billion dollar contracts such as those supplying jet fuel to the military.

...and it just gets worst the more you read.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | June 7, 2010 4:51 PM | Report abuse

Yes and my suspicion all along has been the dispersant use, in particular in those quantities both sprayed and at depth are a large part of losing the ability to estimate the volume.

But this is all plowed ground. I was yakking about this with people, our government's complicity, the Unified Command propaganda site with the pictures of the first oily bird getting washed off and etc. over a month ago. We'll never know how much oil leaked. And yeah, BP does care about that, a lot.

Posted by: shrink2 | June 7, 2010 4:54 PM | Report abuse

Hornet's nest.

Rabbit hutch

Cattle barn and/or cow barn.

Don't overthink this stuff.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | June 7, 2010 4:57 PM | Report abuse

Really, Mudge? Only one hornet in that nest?

Posted by: -TBG- | June 7, 2010 5:03 PM | Report abuse

shrink2,
The more FUD BP can spread indirectly, the better. Note that they passed the buck to the Flow Rate Technical Group which was arguably set-up to fail. Plus, how and when did the feds roll over on the dispersants?

Posted by: yellojkt | June 7, 2010 5:04 PM | Report abuse

My brother gripes about "ice tea" insisting it's "iced tea." I pretend to agree (although I pretty much DO agree) and say "Yeah, and how about those people who write 'roast beef' instead of 'roasted beef!'" Then he gets nervous.

yello, you got the boss so excited he wrote "you're suggestion", which amused me, only because maybe it means there's hope for me.

Posted by: Jumper1 | June 7, 2010 5:05 PM | Report abuse

Hornets' hutch

Cattle nest

Rabbit barn

Yep! I got it, I think.

Posted by: MsJS | June 7, 2010 5:05 PM | Report abuse

how [Yeah, that is what I want to know, Lisa Jackson (EPA head) was asked directly and got very defensive, circled the wagons and got a little snippy; I heard her, I think it was on NPR-ATC a few weeks ago] and when [this I know, right away as soon as the leak was acknowledged the spraying began using our assets/air tankers] did the feds roll over on the dispersants?

Posted by: shrink2 | June 7, 2010 5:09 PM | Report abuse

Jumper,
If I can ever catch him using 'that' instead of 'who', my life will be complete.

Posted by: yellojkt | June 7, 2010 5:09 PM | Report abuse

yellow, I haven't even bought any champagne. I'm gonna put my champagne money into 12-mo. CDs (the auto roll-over kind) and will, hopefully, buy bubbly sometime in the distant future when it is justified.

I'm with you on your comments and position. BP has not proven to have an interest in anything but BP. Their risk mitigation plans, if they ever had any, were totally inadequate for the risks they were taking. Sure it was R&D stuff, but it was RISKY R&D stuff that has the potential to wipe out a huge ecosystem and destroy the livelihoods of thousands, if not millions, of people. BP didn't even do the basic stuff, like checking the battery in the BOP.

Right now, here in SC, they are drawing up plans in case the oil gets this far. They are looking at what has to be protected and how many layers of protection will be needed.

Why should that even be necessary? The thought of having to eat farm-raised Vietnamese shrimp from now on just makes me ill.

DLD

Posted by: DLDx | June 7, 2010 5:13 PM | Report abuse

My Yellow Jackets don't nest, they swarm.

Posted by: yellojkt | June 7, 2010 5:23 PM | Report abuse

BP's never been expected to care about anything but BP and BP shareholders. That's how this capitalism thing works. Until actions damage BP and BP's shareholders, they'll continue to think and act that way.

I'm not against capitalism. We just have to hope BP wakes up quickly to the idea that damaging the environment is bad for BP and BP's shareholders.

From the WaPo article the other about BP's financials...

"Despite the fatal explosion on the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig that triggered the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, 10 of the 14 leading investment analysts tracking BP have "buy" ratings on the company, including one who has upgraded his recommendation.

"The reason: BP is a colossus with more than 18 billion barrels of proven reserves, operations in more than 100 countries, oil production everywhere from Angola to Russia to Alaska and a new agreement in Iraq. Even after paying out its regularly quarterly dividends at a rate of $10.5 billion a year, BP will still have $5 billion to $10 billion in cash flow, depending on the price of oil. And its relatively modest debt level means that it could also borrow money if necessary."

Posted by: -TBG- | June 7, 2010 5:29 PM | Report abuse

Aegean stables.

Yellojkt, clicked on that "test your focus" thing and decided it was far too boring to do.

So I consider I won the game by not playing at all. Like that guy in "Wargames" who managed to teach a computer that you can't win at tic tac toe if you play it correctly.

1983. Kids not born then have competed college since, and somehow I remember that movie like I saw it yesterday.

Now where did I leave my false teeth last?

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | June 7, 2010 5:32 PM | Report abuse

Ah, the old "to big to fail" reasoning.

DLD

Posted by: DLDx | June 7, 2010 5:35 PM | Report abuse

On-topic:
I have to think that every other oil company out there is leaning heavily on BP to make sure this gets taken care of so that the game isn't over for all of them. (And watching the coal companies trying to profit from the offshore disaster is just bizarre--"Our substandard safety protocols may kill our workers, but at least we're not oiling up all the migrating songbirds along the east coast.")
Off-topic:
Best ways to get rid of poison ivy in the yard? It's making headway but I still have a shot at prevailing if I get to it soon...
(or maybe it's not off-topic, especially if I need to use dispersants.)

Posted by: AgAnnie | June 7, 2010 5:46 PM | Report abuse

Overheard on the radio, a claim that Canada requires the simultaneous drilling of a relief well along with the exploratory well. Does anyone else have the low down?

And how do they make sure that the relief well doesn't turn into another leak?

Posted by: j3hess | June 7, 2010 5:47 PM | Report abuse

Another blowout preventor failure in Pa and how some activists plan on taking on the company.

http://m.philly.com/phillycom/db_41090/contentdetail.htm;jsessionid=64F3634F82014A3C974BFA37FC0E83D8?contentguid=ZkyrD38z&src=cat

http://www.philly.com/philly/business/20100606_Activist_nuns_bringing_fracking_to_a_vote.html#axzz0qCqUeXSd

Posted by: -dbG- | June 7, 2010 5:47 PM | Report abuse

Another blowout preventor failure in Pa and how some activists plan on taking on the company.

http://m.philly.com/phillycom/db_41090/contentdetail.htm;jsessionid=64F3634F82014A3C974BFA37FC0E83D8?contentguid=ZkyrD38z&src=cat

http://www.philly.com/philly/business/20100606_Activist_nuns_bringing_fracking_to_a_vote.html#axzz0qCqUeXSd

Posted by: -dbG- | June 7, 2010 5:49 PM | Report abuse

I only clicked submit once. And we'll clean the whole thing up.

Posted by: -dbG- | June 7, 2010 5:51 PM | Report abuse

TBG, while the majority of leading investment analysts in that article say the like BP stock, the NYSE figures paint a slightly different picture.

Figures below are from Yahoo! Finance.

Jan 4 - April 20:
Low close on NYSE: $52.43 (2/8)
High close on NYSE: $62.32 (1/19)
Avg daily vol: 6,068,000
Close on April 20: $60.48

April 21 - June 7:
Low close on NYSE: $60.09 (4/21)
High close on NYSE: $36.52 (6/1)
Avg daily vol: 42,127,000
Close on June 7: $36.76

I look at these figures and see a lot of uncertainty about BP. Maybe in the long run it will be viable, but in the short run a lot of investors are acting as though there are better places to park their money.

Posted by: MsJS | June 7, 2010 5:59 PM | Report abuse

AgAnnie,

Without herbicides, if you don't want to get all covered up and pull it, it is best to use flame, a propane torch with a portable tank made for the purpose, on a wet day, wearing a canister respirator, no one else around, of course. You don't want to burn it, you want to singe it, but some smoke wisps are inevitable.

Otherwise, Roundup works fine, unless you want to protect your grass, in which case Weed B Gone (once known as Agent Orange) works, but only if you are persistent.

Posted by: shrink2 | June 7, 2010 5:59 PM | Report abuse

SCC: In the 2nd half of the mini-table the low close and high close numbers are reversed. My apologies.

Posted by: MsJS | June 7, 2010 6:01 PM | Report abuse

shrink2, thank you. The post-adolescents in the household will enjoy gardening with a propane torch, and the house next door is really old, anyway.

Posted by: AgAnnie | June 7, 2010 6:13 PM | Report abuse

Weed G Gone = Agent Orange? Think I need to be more careful when applying it - it has just become available here and is the only selective herbicide on the market.

My current obsession is following the mounting costs for the G8/G20 summit we are hosting, along with the list of inconveniences that will occur due to our PM idea of holding the G20 in the downtown core of our largest city.

I am glad my tax dollars are being well spent - cause every summit needs a Potemkin Lake - I know from experience that a lake can be put in that particular building much more cost effectively, the fact that is sits 1/4 mile from one of the Great Lakes might make it a little redundant?

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/ottawa-notebook/tories-pilloried-for-fake-lake-at-g8g20-media-centre/article1595348/

Posted by: dmd3 | June 7, 2010 6:16 PM | Report abuse

a propane torch

It really works, just singe a few leaves and the whole plant dies back to the roots. If you don't have a whole lot of it, a small hand held one like that typically used for brazing, will work, so you don't have to spend ~$100 for the heavy duty gear.

Posted by: shrink2 | June 7, 2010 6:18 PM | Report abuse

Do not, repeat, do not, create poison ivy smoke.

Paint roundup on leaves with a small brush.

Posted by: woofin | June 7, 2010 6:19 PM | Report abuse

Try some demi-satyrs instead.

http://www.wxii12.com/news/20204821/detail.html

Bonus: no trolls in your yard while they work.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | June 7, 2010 6:25 PM | Report abuse

Remember: herbivores, not herbicides.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | June 7, 2010 6:27 PM | Report abuse

I'm looking forward to the part where the whole plant dies back to its roots. Thanks, shrink2!
(And no poison ivy smoke will be created in this undertaking. The plant completely scares me, although the toxin that makes it so virulent will probably end up as a cure for cancer.)

Posted by: AgAnnie | June 7, 2010 6:29 PM | Report abuse

I'd settle for a cure for oil companies, AgAnnie.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | June 7, 2010 6:38 PM | Report abuse

dmd, can I have a Potemkin Lake too?

Posted by: MsJS | June 7, 2010 6:40 PM | Report abuse

j3hess, your information is correct. A relief well is required at the time of drilling. It is capped unless and until it is needed.

Posted by: Yoki | June 7, 2010 6:42 PM | Report abuse

Goats work great, people in the PacNW use them for blackberry thickets and all kinds of otherwise intractable brush clearing problems. But supervising their prodigious effort can be quite a challenge.

Posted by: shrink2 | June 7, 2010 6:45 PM | Report abuse

MsJS, with the slightest connection to the G8/G20 and/or Canadian tourism I am sure they would lump it into the budget. Seriously from that media centre the view south is to one of Toronto's bigger tourist attractions, Ontario Place which is built on the lake!

Posted by: dmd3 | June 7, 2010 6:53 PM | Report abuse

MATERS!!!! We got maters!! One of my roma plants has four little green elongated marble-size mater's on it.

TBG, you're not gonna argue with Stieg Larsson, are you? http://www.librarything.com/work/3167566

I'd have posted the Amazon link, but Amazon has it wrong. http://www.amazon.com/Girl-Who-Kicked-Hornets-Nest/dp/1906694176 Look at the title on the cover and then look at Amazon's title.

There is NO, repeat, NO across-the-board rule about whether a phrase should be single-with-apostrophe, plural-with-apostrophe, or single without anything. These things are decided by custom and usage. It is hornet's nest not by rule, but by custom. Ditto rabbit hutch, etc. Not every phrase is a case of possession (requiring an apostrophe and an "s"); some are simply noun modifiers (rabbit hutch).

This is has been another lesson from the Grammar Schoolmarm in these here parts. Time to go round up some dinner from the chuck's wagon.

Posted by: Curmudgeon5 | June 7, 2010 7:00 PM | Report abuse

Wilbrod, maybe in the long run the Deepwater fiasco will help cure us of oil companies. While we're waiting, it would be nice if goats could clear out corner offices as effectively as they clear out blackberry thickets.

Posted by: AgAnnie | June 7, 2010 7:03 PM | Report abuse

Luftslottet som sprängdes

http://www.adlibris.com/se/product.aspx?isbn=9113015311

Where is the apostrophe? I only see an umlaut.

Posted by: yellojkt | June 7, 2010 7:07 PM | Report abuse

Weed B Gone's active ingredient is 2-4-D, one of the two active ingredients of the Vietnam era defoliant, Agent Orange.

http://www.grinningplanet.com/2005/06-28/lawn-weed-killer-agent-orange-article.htm

I have noticed that to make it "safer", the recommended residential lawn application rate is so dilute, it does not work very well. Solution? Well if it can barely kill weeds, how toxic can it be? People learn to apply it at higher concentrations and more often...greaaaatidea.

Posted by: shrink2 | June 7, 2010 7:20 PM | Report abuse

Yay! for maters. It's not a proper summer without.

I'm trying again this year. The last outing yielded about 3 1" absolutely delicious tomatters (were supposed to be 3-4"). I decided it was a soil problem and am planting this year in a large plot rather than the decorative plant bed. The young'un declared she will take absolutely no responsibility for this year's batch - but then she wanted to make her share of last year's into ketchup! So I'm going solo.

Posted by: j3hess | June 7, 2010 7:25 PM | Report abuse

Congrats on the maters, mudge. Feel free to fax some over for pre-competition tasting. TBG, the contest is on this year right?

Posted by: yellojkt | June 7, 2010 7:46 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, yello. I'm also going to assume that the hornet in Larsson's book is figurative and there isn't more than one.

But please remember that I hated his first book, and didn't bother with the rest of the series. And the translating was so awful, it turned out to be more entertaining to me than the story.

Posted by: -TBG- | June 7, 2010 8:18 PM | Report abuse

There are many hornets in vol. 3. Between one dozen and two dozen, I'd guess. Curiously, all three English/American titles of his books have no reference to the plots themselves, and the phrases are barely if ever mentioned. In the first, yes, she has a dragon tattoo but it is hardly described at all and has no plot relevance. She's just got a big tattoo. In the second, she doesn't literally play with fire, merely goes looking for trouble, and finds it. In book three, she does stir up a figurative hornet's nest, but I don't even recollect the phrase being in the text at all (if it was, it was so fleeting I missed it).

Posted by: Curmudgeon5 | June 7, 2010 8:41 PM | Report abuse

Last weekend I was fully kitted in tyvek suit and rubber gloves as I was pulling weeds clearing a blackberry thicket. Rubber gloves kept the bramble damage to a manageable level, and the tyvek keep me reasonably poison ivy free. One little patch below one knee where I undoubtedly touched down too hard.

Agent Orange sounds good compared to that.

I think I pushed back the bad weeds and ivy to get the blackberry patch free to produce lots of product in the fall. The patch has approximately doubled in two years, and if it is up to us it can double again in two more. Blackberry jam is heaven.

Posted by: steveboyington | June 7, 2010 8:48 PM | Report abuse

I think that part of the problem with candor from BP is that it's a struggle to decide how much candor is decent and honest, and how much candor is irresponsibly throwing away the livelihood and wealth of other people.

Consider the following scenario: BP comes right out and says "Yep, it was us. Our fault. Our man on the scene made a series of bad decisions with dreadful consequences, but those decisions were a direct consequence of pressure from above and from our corporate culture and are not a matter of personal negligence by him." Commendable behavior, it would seem. Then, later on, it turns out that Halliburton had completely botched the cementing job and told lies to the BP company man, in the context of which his decisions were perfectly correct. Even though he should have been more skeptical, the BP man's culpability clearly is reduced, as he would have been relying on Halliburton to live up to their contractual obligations. Months or years later, civil lawsuits start to come up for jury trials. In the face of trying to explain Halliburton's (hypothetical) criminality vs. an open admission of (misplaced or overstated) guilt from BP, which one do you think is more likely to be hung out to dry, and to be more thoroughly reamed? I know it seems satisfying to say "BP should suffer." The thing is, there is no entity "BP" that can suffer. What there are, are tens of thousands of shareholders whose investments are going to crater, people who had no knowledge of BP's corporate culture and no direct hand in decision-making. Those people are going to be left with bupkus, because someone in the BP leadership may have claimed greater guilt than BP actually owns. Billions will be lost, more than likely, and there's no way that any individual could say "Oops! My bad! Let me make it up to you." The only way to avoid that situation is to be tight-lipped. Admit what is known, but volunteer nothing.

BP should not be lying, and should be held accountable if it can be shown that they have done so. However, I am neither surprised nor particularly appalled that at every turn they should desperately cling to the least-damning version of events.

Posted by: ScienceTim | June 7, 2010 8:51 PM | Report abuse

Mudge, that particular custom is indeed over 270 years old.

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/hornet's%20nest

A cuckoo's nest; a wasp nest, a nest of vipers, an ice cream Nestle...

My guess is that so often happens along the way of English evolution, that hornet did not have -es/-s plural until much later.

This is supported by the fact the original was hyrnitu, hurnitu= the feminine case, which would have had a genitive of hurnite, nominative/genitive plural hurnita.

This has happened many times with strong feminine declinsion words in the past: Pease became pea, with peas the plural, even though pease was perfectly fine for both, by the new, simplified declinsion rules, peasu was too confusing.

(We still say and spell it pease porridge= a perfect Old English genitive singular preserved like a fossil.)

The weak feminine noun would end in -an for the genitive, so for instance, the genitive plural of "hyrneta nest" could have sounded like "hornetan est."

(The English language has transformed "a nuncle" into "an uncle", "napron" into an apron", so terminal vowels before a N are a big problem.)

We see this change in cuckoo's nest too (cucu, also a strong feminine noun like hyrnetu and peasu), to protect the integrity of the words by changing the genitive just for that combination, to make it clearer which words were meant.

So hornet's nest may have been around in sound long before "hornets" was ever made into the new plural of "hornet" as English evolved.

Laying off the word wonkage for now.

This just goes to prove that the history of English is a real hornet's nest.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | June 7, 2010 8:59 PM | Report abuse

Yellojkt, your 5:09 cracked me up.

And I wonder if I should buy a fishes' tank. Or is it fish's tank? Oh well.

I think it's time for a low but relentlessly increasing carbon tax.

Posted by: Jumper1 | June 7, 2010 9:04 PM | Report abuse

Aughhh! It's Augean, not Aegean!

According to Wikipedia, the 5th labor of Hercules didn't count because he got paid for it. Hercules did, however, have to murder Augeas and plunder his kingdom to recover the amount owed.

Posted by: Entenpfuhl | June 7, 2010 9:16 PM | Report abuse

Thanks. You know, I always wondered if that's how the Aegean sea was created and if so, how badly it stank in ancient times to deserve such an execrable mythology.

Augean. Thanks Entenpfuhl.

Also, scc: "an N" not a N". Me got big problems with vowels before Ns.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | June 7, 2010 9:29 PM | Report abuse

For those who like him, Anthony Bourdain will be on with Rachel Maddow in a little bit.

Poison ivy, ick. As a child I used to catch it from my dog almost every summer, no fun memories there. It lines part of the sidewalk we use on our daily walks and I make sure to keep as far away as I can without ending up walking in the street.

Posted by: badsneakers | June 7, 2010 9:34 PM | Report abuse

I'm not particularly sensitive to poison ivy & the like, so I can usually get away with casual contact. But I proved to myself in a controlled experiment (by rubbing some rather vigorously on one arm) that I'm definitely not immune.

Some of us are doomed always to learn our lessons the hard way.

Posted by: Bob-S | June 7, 2010 9:47 PM | Report abuse

Oh Poison Ivy. I hesitate to speak the unclean name of that weed with roots in Hell. I lived for 25 blissful years before discovering that I was especially sensitive to its evil.

I have spoken before about my gardening burqua. Heat stroke is preferable to the effects of Urushiol.

To break out in a horrible rash I need not touch it. I need only be downwind.

Indeed. Just thinking about it is starting to make me crave a nice soothing bath in colloidal oatmeal.

Oh bother.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | June 7, 2010 9:48 PM | Report abuse

I think I've found my very own honey-do mudge and I think he's going to take care of the poison ivy from now on.

Last week I decided it was stupid to continue cutting my own lawn when I had to antihistimine-up to do it. Fortuituously, the local lawn guys were cutting my neighbors' lawns at the exact time of my decision. The business owner lives down the street, he's always been a nice guy.

Garages are scarce around here, he ends up parking his trailer and mowers on the street. I have a large, unused garage. You can see where this is going. We discussed swapping and I came home today to a driveway clear of all the branches/trees I'd cut down, a de-branched backyard and a weeded flower plot in front. He does snow removal in the winter.

This is love.

Posted by: -dbG- | June 7, 2010 10:07 PM | Report abuse

I became sensitive to poison ivy after long and frequent exposure.

This evening's walk turned up a field of rain lilies (Zephyranthes), no doubt from a house that must once have occupied the site. Also sharks under the bridge. Lots of toads.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | June 7, 2010 10:16 PM | Report abuse

Poison ivy is evil indeed. I told the story of a co-worker who discovered she was allergic to it when mowing a patch with a ride-on mower. She told me her story from the local emergency room. She was amazed by the plant's many forms when I offered a walk through poison ivy recognition workshop on her lot a couple of weeks later. I've almost eraticated the evil vegetal from my lot but I remain vigilant (both witches are highly reactive to the nasty plant, I'm not yet).

I lived a country song last weekend. My dog died, I ripped one of the ride-on mower's tire against a stone and blew it out, discovered the minivan had a tire puncture ( no. 6 screw with a philips heads) early Sunday morning, none of the 3 fence guys showed up to do an estimate on the fence replacement project and it rained all weekend. I also smashed a finger doing a small soldering project but that is par for the course for me. I impressed Witch no.2 with my one-handed bandage application technique. Experience makes it look easy.

One golden moment: Witch no.1 called to have more detail on the Giant Black Lab death and report she is heading towards Brag's Valparaiso with 5 Englishwomen. Only in my dreams. She likes being the dark, Spanish-speaking local-looking women in that fair-coloured group...

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | June 7, 2010 10:26 PM | Report abuse

The NY Times has a new Dealbook column look at BP's future by the well-connected Andrew Ross Sorkin.
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/08/business/08sorkin.html?hp

The sharks and vultures are circling. And in Robert Bryce's words, BP "will spend the coming decades circling the drain."

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | June 7, 2010 10:32 PM | Report abuse

I am so allergic to poison ivy. The last terrible case I had was when I went to Georgetown U on a pre-college visit (having picked it up before the trip). Since moving out of western PA, I have managed to avoid it. We had some in VA in the country, but here in the Pacific NW, we are poison ivy and poison snake free.

Posted by: seasea1 | June 7, 2010 10:33 PM | Report abuse

It always causes a bit of sadness when a friend doesn't like a much enjoyed book. Not defending the literary merits, just found the trilogy a rip roaring read.

Not allergic to poison ivy, but always fear the next exposure will be the one that brings the first bad reaction.

In Princess Sparkle Pony news the Dems finally got organized behind one candidate so there is hope.

On BP I got nothing, except deep sadness and irritation with nearly everything I read or hear about it.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | June 7, 2010 10:35 PM | Report abuse

Thinking of circling, "L'Engrenage" ("The vicious spiral") is the title of French rogue trader Jérôme Kerviel's autobiography.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/capitalism-in-the-dock-as-kerviel-goes-on-trial-1994133.html

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | June 7, 2010 10:38 PM | Report abuse

The president of Transocean celebrates a safety award in India by doing a Bollywood dance routine.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QtU59VBw_LA&feature=player_embedded

Sign him up for Dancing With The Environment Destroying CEOs.

Posted by: yellojkt | June 7, 2010 10:51 PM | Report abuse

seasea,
Those hordes of PNW garter snakes were kinda neat. Much nicer than finding a coral snake by the front door.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | June 7, 2010 11:12 PM | Report abuse

The Aegean Sea is so-named because Aegeus, father of the hero Theseus and King of Athens, committed suicide by throwing himself into the sea that became named after him. He did so because sonny-boy thoughtlessly left a black sail flying when he returned to Athens after slaying the Minotaur to which he and 13 others had been sent as a tribute and meal (I never have figured out why a bull-headed giant man should be a carnivore). There have been some suggestions that Ariadne, daughter of King Minos of Crete and hoochy-mama (sp?) of Theseus may have contrived the situation on purpose. Possibly it's just because she was social-climbing and wanted to speed Theseus' inheritance of dominion over the rich city of Athens. On further reflection, I wonder if it might be payback -- horrible though he was, the Minotaur was reputedly a child of Minos (who was part god, like so many Greek gods reputedly were); Ariadne thus would have been the Minotaur's half-sister. She probably had happy memories of playing cowboys and Scythians with him in the days before he developed his taste for human flesh. Plus, she had to disobey Papa by arranging the murder of his formerly sweet little bull-headed boy. Sadness all around. How could Theseus be a decent king if he never understood the harsh realities of rulership? The losses that one must suffer for the good of all, or at least the good of Ariadne? Seems only fair.

Augeas, on the other hand, was just a dude with a lot of horses with serious digestive difficulties. Man-eating horses, IIRC. Which might go a long way to explain the digestive difficulties.

Posted by: ScienceTim | June 7, 2010 11:47 PM | Report abuse

hoochie. hoochie coochie. hoochie coochie mama. hoochie coochie man. that's what i am.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uO4A6xx65WU

Posted by: -jack- | June 8, 2010 12:19 AM | Report abuse

more of that blues thing.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oHowqKYSXNI&feature=related

Posted by: -jack- | June 8, 2010 12:24 AM | Report abuse

Why, jack! I can assure you that I have never once before thought of you as a hoochie coochie man.

Posted by: Yoki | June 8, 2010 12:27 AM | Report abuse

that same thing. this is exceptional.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oiEBopPts1E

Posted by: -jack- | June 8, 2010 12:44 AM | Report abuse

i'm not. just being cheeky.

it just struck me that bp has been engineering the various iterations of the top hat according to the veritable equation that defines the combined gas law. the first one didn't work, i'm guessing, because it didn't produce enough back pressure to keep the gas escaping from the well from expanding. thus, the gas condensed on the particles in the effluent and formed a slush that clogged the line leading to the surface. take this with a grain of salt. i know nothing of engineering, nor blowout prevention.

Posted by: -jack- | June 8, 2010 12:53 AM | Report abuse

Jack, thanks for the Muddy Waters, man! I've got the blues tonight really bad (not over my man, tho) so you hit me where it lives.

Saw Muddy back in the 70s at the Telluride Jazz Festival. Wow!

Posted by: talitha1 | June 8, 2010 1:16 AM | Report abuse

Now that I think about it, it probably was early 80s. No matter, the music is ageless.

Posted by: talitha1 | June 8, 2010 1:30 AM | Report abuse

Ahh, a new poster. And a member of the Freud Squad.

I’ve got 3 big bushes of white periwinkle growing out of the crack of the drain. Actually, there were 5. When two of them were little, I pulled them out of the crack and planted them in a pot. They didn’t like the pot and died on me. Now I’ve got another one growing out of the crack of my straight lucky bamboo pot. It’s pink periwinkle! I’m happy to finally get a pink.

I’ve got straight lucky bamboo coming out of my ears. I could do some artsy thing with it but just not inspired enough.

Posted by: rainforest1 | June 8, 2010 3:04 AM | Report abuse

Kona, iced tea, juice. Blueberry buttermilk pancakes, scrapple, pork roll and Greek yogurt in the dining room. Have a good day, all!

Posted by: -dbG- | June 8, 2010 7:15 AM | Report abuse

Forgot the fruit salad and oatmeal. I haven't made breakfast here since last August. Any minute now someone will tell me someone else already did.

Posted by: -dbG- | June 8, 2010 7:19 AM | Report abuse

Someone needs to provide breakfast to the Dawn Patrol tower crew... Two straight days of delays. *shrug*

Reading the coverage of the soldier accused of providing classified material to Wikileaks, it's always annoying to me that some people fail to realize that "whistleblowing" has a relatively narrow definition. *shrug*

*out-of-shrugs-for-now-but-certainly-some-Diet-Pepsi-will-refill-the-supply Grover waves* :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | June 8, 2010 7:46 AM | Report abuse

That was a great article in Parade about Matthew McConoughy and the kids doing volunteer work. Was there something else I should have caught?

Posted by: yellojkt | June 8, 2010 7:57 AM | Report abuse

Here is today's lesson in significant digits. From the

///On Sunday alone, BP said, the pipe brought up 466,200 gallons (11,100 barrels) of oil. The government has estimated the size of the leak as between 504,000 gallons (12,000 barrels) and 798,000 gallons (19,000 barrels) a day -- which would mean that somewhere between 58 and 92 percent of the oil is now being captured. ///
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/06/07/AR2010060700433_2.html?sid=ST2010060704777

There are 42 gallons to a barrel. That is a fixed constant. When you convert barrels (12,000 and 19,000) you should do the math and come up with 504,000 and 798,000 respectively. But the original estimate only gave two significant digits (12,xxx and 19,xxx where the x's indicated insignificant trailing zeroes) so the answer should be rounded back to the same digits. In this case, it gives even nicer rounder numbers, 50x,xxx and 80x,xxx. These numbers give a better gut feel for the actual magnitude without imparting some sort of level of precision not merited.

(more)

Posted by: yellojkt | June 8, 2010 8:04 AM | Report abuse

Yes, yello, exactly... *L*

Oh, forgot to mention I'm wearing a red shirt this morning. Hope I make it past the first commercial break.

Posted by: Scottynuke | June 8, 2010 8:07 AM | Report abuse

dmd, thank you for the phrase "Potemkin Lake."

It occurs to me that we just missed a trifecta - we have the G8 and the G20. We could have had Bilderberg too.

Posted by: byoolin1 | June 8, 2010 8:19 AM | Report abuse

jkt, first, I have been far from the technical nuances of this leak, but, if you were suggesting the total magnitude of the leak from the start to when they most recently capped it, isn't it so that when they "snipped" the top of the pipe, there were obstructions that slowed the flow? Un peu?

Posted by: russianthistle | June 8, 2010 8:23 AM | Report abuse

I need more coffee... my mind is all slwpfith.

Posted by: russianthistle | June 8, 2010 8:29 AM | Report abuse

I admire those of you who can crunch numbers before noon - or after noon for that matter.

Another beautiful day. Off to play tennis for a while and then chores and errands. I have plans to wash a horse this weekend, please don't be too jealous ;-)

Posted by: badsneakers | June 8, 2010 8:36 AM | Report abuse

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/08/us/08flow.html?hp

Posted by: -shiloh- | June 8, 2010 8:36 AM | Report abuse

Thanks byoolin, knew that Russian history course would come in handy someday.

Posted by: dmd3 | June 8, 2010 8:39 AM | Report abuse

I think Joel's 3:17 says it best and that's all I have to say. Except "Joel 3:17" sounds kind of like a Bible verse.

Beautiful day outside. Alas, I have much work to do here in my Subterranean Lair of Eternal Darkness. (Oddly, that name has yet to really catch fire around here.)

I will be taking a bit of leave this afternoon because my son and my wife have scored some pretty good tickets to see the Nats game. Evidently it will feature some fellow of German extraction who is an especially proficient pitcher.

Because I am saintlike, and a marginal baseball fan, I will be staying home to watch "New Moon" with my daughter.

At least I won't have to pay eight bucks for a cold Yuengling.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | June 8, 2010 9:04 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, y'all.

dbG, your breakfast offering is magnificent! I add my usual muffins, OJ and coffee to the feast.

SciTim, on principle I'd like to agree with your 8:51pm post. However, Dr. Hayward is on record with comments that were clearly at odds with the evidence at the time he made them. I'm not going to speculate as to why, but it doesn't help BP's cause to have its CEO looking as though he's a liar, an idiot, or uninformed.

shiloh, I feel as though the NYT story was taken from the boodle. We've discussed many of these same issues regarding the leak rate for a month. Thanks for sharing.

Mudge, great news about the maters. Our local allotment garden space is going gangbusters with the warm moist spring we've had here.

BroJS is highly allergic to poison ivy. We have a great family story about how he landed in a patch 10 days before his wedding. Any more details would be TMI.

Posted by: MsJS | June 8, 2010 9:07 AM | Report abuse

It's an awesome day here! Unfortunately, I've enjoyed it for all of 78 seconds while walking to and from my car. I'm sure spending the day in my cubicle of extreme drabness will improve matters.

I've just learned (from my Snapple "Real Fact") that President Harding once lost White House china in a poker game. Maybe that's what this deficit thing is all about: gambling losses.

And following that train of thought I suppose you'd have to say the whole Gulf disaster is really the result of a lost gamble.

Posted by: cowhand214 | June 8, 2010 9:15 AM | Report abuse

Coming soon to a republican campaign commercial near you...

Last night Pres. Obama addressed the local high school graduates. Had the school choir assembled behind him. One of the students was clearly asleep, awkwardly jerking awake during applause moments.

It was a good speech, as far as I could tell - but 1- and 2-of-5 kept laughing and yelling 'somebody poke him!' It's already on YouTube...

Posted by: Enterprise1701 | June 8, 2010 9:22 AM | Report abuse

Good to see you, Enterprise1701!

You too, byoolin! :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | June 8, 2010 9:29 AM | Report abuse

Let me just say now, that I meant to say "...Minos (who was part god, like so many Greek KINGS reputedly were)..."

Posted by: ScienceTim | June 8, 2010 9:39 AM | Report abuse

SciTim, there are those of us who believe all living things, heck even the rocks, are part G-d.

Posted by: MsJS | June 8, 2010 9:42 AM | Report abuse

BP stock is once again falling on the NYSE in early trading. It's in new 52-week low territory, about $35.20.

The investment analysts may like the stock, but the traders seem to be paying more attention to angry Gulf residents.

Posted by: MsJS | June 8, 2010 9:48 AM | Report abuse

My 8:04 was a little nitpicky, but my bigger beef has to do with the dangers from giving reporters calculators. The flow that BP is capturing 11,100 barrels per day. I have no reason to dispute this number. Where the math gets fuzzy is when that solid number is compared to the less precise total flow estimates.

The 12,000 to 19,000 range was given BEFORE the riser pipe was cut off. The gummint is guessing removal of the riser would increase flow by perhaps 20%. This would bump up this range to between 14,400 and 22,800. But David A. Fahrenthold and Anne E. Kornblut do not make any adjustment and instead divide the current capture rate into the pre-riser cut flow estimate and come up with a range of 58-92% of the leak. If adjusted for the higher rate, that percentage rage should only be 49-77%. And even that number is oddly precise.

The problem is that the WaPo is now carrying water for BP and putting out numbers that are misleadingly optimistic. A blogger or PR person would be perfectly justified in saying something to the effect that "The Washington Post reports that up to '92 percent of the oil is now being captured.'"

This statement would be obviously false but is completely free of BP's fingerprints. They did not say that, the reporters went out on the limb themselves.

The good new is that a revised flow rate from the Flow Rate Technical Group is due today. I learned that from an excellent report on NPR this morning that struck the right balance between reporting what is known as well as describing what is not known, such as why BP did not know they were going to need a bigger boat.

What would I have said? I'm not a journalist, but I would have hedged the statement to say something like this: "Based on previous estimates of the leak, the current arrangement is probably capturing between a half and two thirds of the total oil."

Posted by: yellojkt | June 8, 2010 9:49 AM | Report abuse

'Morning, Boodle. This just in: RIP, Jack:

British Great Escape veteran Harrison dies at 97

By ROBERT BARR
The Associated Press
Tuesday, June 8, 2010; 8:46 AM

"LONDON -- Jack Harrison, who survived the Great Escape plot by Allied prisoners in a German prison in World War II, has died at age 97, his family said.
Harrison died Friday at Erskine veterans' home in Bishopton, Scotland.
As a camp gardener, Harrison helped dispose of the dirt excavated from three escape tunnels. He was 98th on the list of some 200 inmates designated to make the escape on March 24, 1944, but only 76 got away before guards detected the breakout and raised the alarm.
The breakout was celebrated in the 1963 film "The Great Escape."
Only three men managed to reach safety. Adolf Hitler ordered the execution of 50 recaptured escapers, and 23 others were returned to custody.
British news reports said Harrison was believed to be the last survivor of the plot, but this could not be confirmed. In addition to the 200 men who won places in the escape queue through a drawing, others were also involved in preparations.
"I guess it was a blessing in disguise I never made it through, as most were shot," Harrison said in an interview last year with the Scottish Sun newspaper. "But the main purpose wasn't just to escape. It was to outfox the Germans. It was a huge moral victory. It humiliated Hitler and gave the Nazis a bloody nose."
Of the three tunnels dug by prisoners, two had been found by guards and closed before the escape attempt.
When the escape was detected, Harrison said he had to quickly burn his disguise as a Siemens engineer and get back into his prison uniform.
"I was to be a Hungarian electrician so I became Aleksander Regenyi, who was employed by a German firm," he recalled.
Harrison was a Royal Air Force pilot who was shot down and captured in November 1942 on his first mission, a raid on the Dutch port of Den Helder. He was taken to Stalag Luft III prison near Sagan in eastern Germany - now Zagan, Poland.
After the war, Harrison resumed his teaching career. He retired in 1975 as director of education for the isle of Bute." [N.B. Nowhere close to Mianus.]

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | June 8, 2010 9:52 AM | Report abuse

Ah, poison ivy, the Official Plant of North Carolina. If I know I've been exposed, I wash my hands and clothes and it won't get me. If I don't know, it will get me badly. This gives me the ability to root it out by hand. I just wash my hands. If a dog rolls in it, I pet the dog and it will get me. At the first sign of it I apply lemon juice. If I scratch for a while before figuring it out, the lemon juice stings badly but still seems to help.

Posted by: Jumper1 | June 8, 2010 9:53 AM | Report abuse

yello, I believe a responsible journalist would say nothing at all on the subject.

Posted by: MsJS | June 8, 2010 9:58 AM | Report abuse

*SNORT!*

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | June 8, 2010 10:03 AM | Report abuse

Mudge's Teilhard Sensei here (borrowing CqP's computer). M.JS said rocks and G0d. And, recently Omni of the Omniscience said something about Teilhard.

Good and brief Wired piece on P TdC
http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/3.06/teilhard.html

As Mario Cuomo put it, "Teilhard made negativism a sin. He taught us how the whole universe - even pain and imperfection - is sacred."

T made (makes) both scientists and theologians nervous.

And, I posit that BP leaders have not read him; pity, pity, pity for us, them, and our dear planet, especially the Gulf neighborhood.

Posted by: CollegeQuaParkian1 | June 8, 2010 10:08 AM | Report abuse

Hey Mudge, you know that friend of yours in the saffron cassock? Well that odd but lovable creature is at my computer, drinking coffee, and proselytizing. Next up? Prostrations before the oak tree and the ivy in the yard.

You have the most interesting friends.

Posted by: CollegeQuaParkian1 | June 8, 2010 10:11 AM | Report abuse

MSJS,
I applaud the writers for trying to add some perspective, but they reached conclusions the underlying facts don't support. Sticking to words like 'substantial', as the headline used, is about as exact a reporter should use without a source to pin the number on. While not a sign of full-blown innumeracy, it's about as bad as habitually mixing up 'who' and 'that'.

Posted by: yellojkt | June 8, 2010 10:12 AM | Report abuse

YJ -- your mix of mathiness, humor, irony, bs-detectors on stun, and commitment to this topic is so boodle-y and helpful. Thanks for staying on this.

Posted by: CollegeQuaParkian1 | June 8, 2010 10:16 AM | Report abuse

xackly, yello!

Posted by: MsJS | June 8, 2010 10:17 AM | Report abuse

New kit

Posted by: Jumper1 | June 8, 2010 10:22 AM | Report abuse

Honored Sensei, the deck on that link describes TdC as an "obscure" Jesuit priest. To whom may this unworthy soul vent his umbrage? (Knowing that Sensei and TdC wouldn't approve.)

Also, it is with extremely mixed feelings that I present this book for your consideration: http://www.amazon.com/Spirituality-Dummies-Sharon-Janis/dp/0470191422

I suppose it was bound to happen sooner or later. I await publication of "Fermat's Last Theorem" for dummies.

Incidentally, in our continuing discussion of the Steig Larsson series, for those who have not read any of it, in the second book (do I have that right?), Salander develops an interest in higher mathematics and spherical astronomy (which has nothing whatsoever to do with the plot; it's what she reads for kicks). She becomes interested in Fermat's Last Theorem...and solves it in her head!! Not only does she solve it, but she discovered how Fermat himself solved it way back when, without the use of computers. And she has this phenomenal epiphany, and one day says, out of the blue, "Oh, yeah! That's how he did it." And then goes on about her business. (Larsson, of course, never gives us that answer; he merely says she solved it.)

Later, she receives a severe head injury, which may have damaged the mathematical portion of her brain. When she recovers, she seems to have forgotten the solution. I loved it.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | June 8, 2010 10:27 AM | Report abuse

Has anybody observed the phenomenon of how the ROV cameras actually cover only about 5-10% of the oil gusher? Most of the field of view is just metal. Cold, wet, unmoving metal. It's as if the camera, at any second, is going to capture the rapid disassembly of the BOP or "top hat", sans tools! HEY BP! How 'bout choos guyz shows us more of how badly that oil cloud expands and envelopes the water around the leak. That, by the way, would be by having the LEAKING OIL take 80-90% of the screen! KMIM??? (Know What I Mean) Thank you ladies and gentlemens! Your cooperation is "questiated"

Posted by: lotta-nada | June 11, 2010 1:18 PM | Report abuse

Has anybody observed the phenomenon of how the ROV cameras actually cover only about 5-10% of the oil gusher? Most of the field of view is just metal. Cold, wet, unmoving metal. It's as if the camera, at any second, is going to capture the rapid disassembly of the BOP or "top hat", sans tools! HEY BP! How 'bout choos guyz shows us more of how badly that oil cloud expands and envelopes the water around the leak (turbidity,turbidify,turdidifies!). That, by the way, would be by having the LEAKING OIL take 80-90% of the screen! KWIM??? (Know What I Mean) Thank you ladies and gentlemens! Your cooperation is "questiated"

Posted by: lotta-nada | June 11, 2010 1:23 PM | Report abuse

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