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Will feds pull plug on BP gulf well?

At this point, I'm pretty conversant about blowout preventers, integrity tests, choke lines, kill lines, ROVs, hydrostatic heads, etc., but mostly what strikes me about this BP oil well disaster is how much I don't know. I don't know, for example, what will happen next. The well is sealed. That's good news. Unless that's actually a really bad idea that is causing the "seep" found near the wellhead, along with other "undetermined anomalies."

I don't like anomalies that are determined, much less the undetermined ones.

Thad Allen's statement this morning boils down to "look at me the wrong way and I'm pulling the plug on this thing":

I authorized BP to continue the integrity test for another 24 hours and I restated our firm position that this test will only continue if they continue to meet their obligations to rigorously monitor for any signs that this test could worsen the overall situation. At any moment, we have the ability to return to the safe containment of the oil on the surface until the time the relief well is completed and the well is permanently killed.

Much speculation that BP wants well to stay closed so that no one can calculate the real flow rate. But for a day or so, the entire flow -- all of it -- was going through Cameron's 3-ram capping stack, first through the main chimney, then through the kill line, then through the choke line. Nothing in there that can meter that flow? Really? Was that just an oversight in the design?

FYI, I'm flying to New Orleans to get to the bottom of all this.... I may have to solve this problem personally.... Packed scuba gear... diving bell... superglue.... More from down there.

By Joel Achenbach  |  July 19, 2010; 9:16 AM ET
 | Tags: gulf oil spill; bp oil spill; blowout preventers; spill cam; oil spill flow rate; capping stack;  
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Next: BP oil spill disaster: What went wrong?


So if I understand this correctly, the reason for continuing the integrity test would have to be to evaluate the requirements for the bottom kill to work -- right? Otherwise, the most sensible thing would be to continue draining (or siphoning, or slurping, or whatever) the oil from the well, to keep pressure low and just let the danged thing drain away. It has to run out eventually.

I haven't had a chance to keep up with Joel's articles on the subject, but I gather from NPR this morning, while driving to work (Joel, you'll just have to get back on the radio more often) that there will be 3 days or so of leaking directly into the ocean before ships can be put in position to receive the oil. Um, given that the outcome of the integrity test was and is uncertain, why is that? Why are they not right there, waiting to take up the slack? That makes no sense to me.

I have a straightforward solution to the problem of how do we punish BP for creating this problem while continuing to draw oil from this well, which they could sell and thus derive ill-gotten gains. Give the oil away. Whatever oil company wants that oil can just put a ship in line to get their share of the crude, dude. Sign up on-line, and BP will let you know when your turn is coming, so you can get a ship in position without any stupid 3 days of spilling into the ocean and so forth. Keep the "shut-in" option for when weather forces the ships off-station.

I am so smart. Why do they not put me in charge of this stuff?

Posted by: ScienceTim | July 19, 2010 10:05 AM | Report abuse

This whole crisis has been characterized by decisions made with incomplete and ambiguous data followed with enthusiastic second-guessing. Couple this with the suspicion of nefarious intent by BP, and you have a situation that will keep the conspiracy industry busy for years.

Which is why the decision not to make flow rate readings in the time period Joel mentions is especially unfortunate. Here was a chance for BP to do something to generate some good will by demonstrating a commitment to the truth.

Perhaps there is a legitimate engineering reason for this decision, but it certainly does look suspicious.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | July 19, 2010 10:10 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, y'all.

Muffins, peach cobbler, coffee and OJ on the table.

Mr. A, if you do scuba diving, please post pictures of you all geared up.

SciTim, I would love to have you take over running the show. Mr. A can do the briefings, complete with hand gestures, and several of the boodlers could provide meaningful support roles of their choosing.

Posted by: MsJS | July 19, 2010 10:23 AM | Report abuse

Welcome to the dark side.

Posted by: yellojkt | July 19, 2010 10:24 AM | Report abuse

Joel, no duct tape?

*Tim, that idea is beautifully simple.

Though the idea that they're flaring much of it off at the surface is simple, too. Sending any possible proceeds up in smoke, rather than putting it to use has pros and cons, I suppose.

yellojkt, I don't think Ricky Martin and I were the only ones to catch that buenopropsim in the previous Boodle.


Posted by: -bc- | July 19, 2010 10:27 AM | Report abuse

jkt, but, haven't those been the problems all along? (I don't mean to be snide, but one has to wonder just how much money was spent on this field during the Bush years (the last ones).

What's more, the more money we spend, the more false positives of some sort, we will generate and that takes people-power to understand. You can make a case for spending oodles of noodles on a premise that somehow you are going to use data to crack a plan.

All I know is that I should have invested in Disk Drive manufacturers and EMC. Anything storage.

Posted by: russianthistle | July 19, 2010 10:28 AM | Report abuse

SCC: "buenopropism". Bah.

You wouldn't think I'd have to correct a coined mash-up of a made-up word, but there are no depths I can't get to in order to make a mistake.


Posted by: -bc- | July 19, 2010 10:37 AM | Report abuse

I highly recommend investing in EMC, as they employ my sister and job security is A Good Thing for her. Tell them you are investing on behalf of the ScienceSister. I'm sure that will matter to them.

Posted by: ScienceTim | July 19, 2010 10:38 AM | Report abuse

Always working to promote the spread of knowledge and contribute to the culture,Sarah Palin Calls On 'Peaceful Muslims' To 'Refudiate' Ground Zero Mosque-

The woman should have the Craftsman logo tattooed on her forehead, cause she's a guaranteed tool for life.

Posted by: kguy1 | July 19, 2010 10:40 AM | Report abuse

Yello - I said it *looks* suspicious. This is quite distinct from assuming that BP is doing something deliberately misleading. It just seems like a missed opportunity.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | July 19, 2010 10:40 AM | Report abuse

This site has all sorts of neat info. The John Wright Company was recently acquired by the firm of Boots & Coots, wild-well-control experts. But their excellent website retains the former identity. They have been retained to perform the kill-well (a more apt name than "relief well") operations. If anyone has the info, they do. Joel should find someone at Boots & Coots /John Wright Co. and talk to them.
I see they have begun their website's changeover to B & C identity. A bit.

Posted by: Jumper1 | July 19, 2010 10:52 AM | Report abuse

By "kill-well operations" I mean the steps taken after the interception is made. Also it's worth noting that the kill- or relief-well bottom pressure will be roughly equal to the bottom pressure of the wild well. Hydrostatics.

Posted by: Jumper1 | July 19, 2010 10:55 AM | Report abuse

bc coins 'buenopropism' and Palin invents the word 'refudiate'. What a rich language American English is.

Posted by: yellojkt | July 19, 2010 11:10 AM | Report abuse

From the comments (most priceless) board on the Palin "refudiate" tweet -----

Now, John Wilkes Booth was an Episcopalian.

I see there are six or seven Episcopal churches within mere blocks on the White House and Ford's Theater -- the very scene of the dastardly assassination of President Abraham Lincoln.

These churches must be torn down.

Doesn't it stab you in the heart, as it does ours throughout the heartland? Peaceful Episcopalians, pls refudiate.


Posted by: talitha1 | July 19, 2010 11:27 AM | Report abuse

It also suggests a counter-word, "illreputiate."

Posted by: Jumper1 | July 19, 2010 11:30 AM | Report abuse


Tomatoes are red. I like tomatoes. I'm a Communist.

Posted by: russianthistle | July 19, 2010 11:33 AM | Report abuse

She tried to justify her "coinage" by citing the shrub's "misunderestimate" and by claiming that Shakespeare coined words so she is within her rights to do so as well. Why does The Taming of the Shrew come to mind here?

Posted by: talitha1 | July 19, 2010 11:34 AM | Report abuse

So you are staying strictly on the 'explain by incompetence' side of the fence rather than the 'attribute to malice' contingent?

'Oops, we forget to track those numbers' seems awfully negligent, to use a big legally loaded word.

BP was rather scrupulously reporting the meaningless partial capture numbers, so the capability to do so was there. The measurements are taken at the ship level, so the replacement of the cap shouldn't have changed anything.

BP has yet to win any awards for transparency so we don't even know if they didn't take measurements or just didn't report them. And I'm not sure which set of facts would fit better into my nefarious conspiracy theory.

Posted by: yellojkt | July 19, 2010 11:43 AM | Report abuse

I'm rather suprised "refusiate" didn't show up in there somewhere....

Posted by: Scottynuke | July 19, 2010 11:46 AM | Report abuse

About not getting real numbers...Do we really care about numbers when it comes to the methane? Aren't they just burning it all off? Or is there a known mixture where knowing one number lets you know the other, like if you know it's a Cuba Libre and you know you have one part rum, there must be two parts soda and a bit of lime?

As to the oil...if it was all collected over the course of a day, don't they know how much they laded that day? Isn't it just a matter of plugging in a couple of numbers? Or is this more of a problem like 'if a red train leaves Chicago at midnight heading to NY at 80 mph, and a blue train leaves NY at 1 am heading to Chicago at 95 mph, what color shirt is the porter wearing?'

Also, aren't there all sorts of non-BP, non-Halliburton, non-TransOcean people on-site? Wouldn't they be jumping up and down saying you can get that number here, or here, or here? Aren't their competitors more than willing to point out what they are doing wrong and where opportunities are being missed? With every eye of the beast watching, and as the risk of detection goes up with the number of people involved, would BP really attempt to pull a fast one now?

Have a happy day all.

Posted by: LostInThought | July 19, 2010 11:53 AM | Report abuse

Folks, as in many cases, I think Uncertainty rules.

A big problem here is are the trust, believeability and knowledge issues regarding the situation.

We know reporters (Joel, of course) are telling us what they know. Rightly or wrongly, there is some public skepticism regarding anyone else with skin in the game.


Posted by: -bc- | July 19, 2010 11:59 AM | Report abuse

Perhaps when she mentioned refud she was talking about a lot of leftover fud? My brother ran into trouble with that a week ago after a barbeque.

He got very sick from all the refud he ate.

Posted by: baldinho | July 19, 2010 12:02 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: talitha1 | July 19, 2010 12:06 PM | Report abuse

Didn't they make a wonderfully bad B-movie about the Refudinator? Or would that be Re-Fudinator?

Posted by: Scottynuke | July 19, 2010 12:08 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: kguy1 | July 19, 2010 12:27 PM | Report abuse

Refud beans and fudamentalists.

Posted by: -dbG- | July 19, 2010 12:29 PM | Report abuse

Yes, kguy, it's amazing how low Eric Roberts can go in search of a paycheck... *L*

Posted by: Scottynuke | July 19, 2010 12:29 PM | Report abuse

The fascinating thing about the sharktopus is that it has the mouth of a shark at one end and the mouth of an octopus at the other. One has to question how it manages to depoopicate.

Posted by: kguy1 | July 19, 2010 12:30 PM | Report abuse

It just refudiates.

Posted by: DNA_Girl | July 19, 2010 12:34 PM | Report abuse

I am neither claiming that the decision not to measure the flow when Joel suggested was nefarious or an indication of incompetence. I meant it is suspicious in that it allows those who presume either of these things a hook to hang accusations on.

As I said, perhaps there were technical reasons why such measurements might be an interference. I don't know. Maybe they figured that such a measurement would be too difficult to extrapolate to the scenario when different equipment was attached. Or that it assumed that the flow hadn't changed, or was always constant.

I don't know. The point is why give critics such an opening unless there is a good reason? And if there is a good reason, advertise it.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | July 19, 2010 12:39 PM | Report abuse

Take bungee cords, Joel. Just like masking tape but waterproof. Wouldn't go anywhere without a few bungee cords.

That sharktopus is a nasty looking thing.

Posted by: VintageLady | July 19, 2010 1:02 PM | Report abuse

That would require a level of competence and/or public relations savvy that BP has yet to exhibit. But they are definitely doing their best to keep the FUD level up.

Posted by: yellojkt | July 19, 2010 1:12 PM | Report abuse

Two years ago when he was with us on a trip to England, they bus driver took a corner too sharp in Bath and dinged up the side view mirror. My son pulled out his roll of duct tape and the bus went on its way.

On this vacation one of the other teacher's suitcase exploded and lamented that she needed to hunt some duct tape down. My wife said she wasn't her son's mother for nothing and loaned her our roll.

Duct tape: Don't travel without it.

Posted by: yellojkt | July 19, 2010 1:16 PM | Report abuse

I also carry HALT. Not necessarily for protection from our doggy friends, but there are always varmits around.

Posted by: VintageLady | July 19, 2010 1:25 PM | Report abuse

Spare the duct tape, spoil the job.
-Red Green

Posted by: talitha1 | July 19, 2010 1:27 PM | Report abuse

Unless TSA bans duct tape, even though it's really handy for tying up hijackers, you know?

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | July 19, 2010 1:27 PM | Report abuse

Bring back some beignets for us, please.

Posted by: -dbG- | July 19, 2010 1:54 PM | Report abuse

Gaffer tape- more expensive, fewer colors, but no sticky residue and it's dead reliable. That stuff sticks anything to anything for as long as you want it to.

Posted by: kguy1 | July 19, 2010 2:07 PM | Report abuse

I, like bc, noticed Joel forgot to list duct tape. He may have merely thought of it as a staple, something like a toothbrush or astrolabe that goes along on every trip. Joel, if you did forget the duct tape, Ace Hardware or Hobby Lobby have selections in many colors, including neon pink and psychedelic mix. The Boy took psychedelic and chrome rolls to camp this week.

Posted by: Ivansmom | July 19, 2010 2:27 PM | Report abuse

kguy -- me too, a fan of the glorious secret theater weapon that is gaffer tape.

Posted by: CollegeQuaParkian1 | July 19, 2010 2:29 PM | Report abuse

lol! Thanks, talitha, for pointing out those hilarious comments on Palin. I love this one too:

...The Muslin population should not build on this site. It's like waving a red flag in front of a bull. They just can't be this stupid.

Posted by: farmsnorton

Muslims in muslin? farmsnorton hasn't been to this site then:

Posted by: MoftheMountain | July 19, 2010 2:30 PM | Report abuse

I shall have to get a roll to keep in my suitcase.

Ivansmom, are you enjoying the peace and quiet or are you lonesome without the Boy?

Posted by: slyness | July 19, 2010 2:30 PM | Report abuse

Ooh, kguy, you climbed to an even higher notch on my respect scale. Gaffer's tape is the precursor to the duct tape. Nowadays it's usually better than the crummy duck tapes. BTW, I discovered the big box hardware places hide the professional duct tape in the back, and keep the stuff for suckers up towards the front. Legend also has it that the U.S. military stocks the best duct tape in the world. It reportedly holds together helicopters in emergencies.

Posted by: Jumper1 | July 19, 2010 2:42 PM | Report abuse

Ironically, one thing that duct tape is not very good for is sealing ducts.

Posted by: yellojkt | July 19, 2010 2:55 PM | Report abuse

Jumper, we have both the good duct tape and the not-so-good. Sometimes it is important to have lots of different colors, you know. id I mention the skee ball set-up the Boy and friends made from duct tape and large folding tables earlier this summer? Gotta have it.

I mostly am enjoying the peace and quiet but there are certain times of day I miss the Boy. Interestingly, it is not so much when we would be interacting as when I just expect him to be there; I am mildly surprised to realize he isn't asleep in his room when I wake up in the morning.

Posted by: Ivansmom | July 19, 2010 2:56 PM | Report abuse

They also sell duct tape in convenient travel sized rolls.

Posted by: yellojkt | July 19, 2010 3:18 PM | Report abuse

yello wrote: "Ironically, one thing that duct tape is not very good for is sealing ducts."

That's because it's for sealing ducks. Well, that's what we called it when we were kids --- duck tape. You mean . . . . . ? Uh-oh.

Posted by: talitha1 | July 19, 2010 3:26 PM | Report abuse

talitha, do you think duck tape would go well with quackers?


Posted by: ftb3 | July 19, 2010 3:30 PM | Report abuse

You sure it's not duh-tape, as in
'Duh, this part is supposed to be attached here'?

Posted by: LostInThought | July 19, 2010 3:32 PM | Report abuse

Is that where the phrase 'tighter than a duck's [anal orifice*]' comes from? Poor things probably exploded.

*Not to be confuse with the hairstyle known as a DA, which my dad claims to have sported in the halcyon days of real rock and roll.

Posted by: yellojkt | July 19, 2010 3:34 PM | Report abuse

Years ago I was about to leave my parents' home to drive back to Colorado in my old pop-top Chevy Blazer. There was a leak around a window and I borrowed my dad's industrial-size roll of duct tape to fix it, inadvertantly leaving it in the truck and taking it back home with me.

My dad griped about the "great duct tape heist" for years afterward, and not entirely in jest.

(If this double-posts it's because my first narrative contained a "questionable" word and was held by the great Achenblog white screen of doom.)

Posted by: talitha1 | July 19, 2010 3:45 PM | Report abuse

Talitha, apparently once a post is 'held' it disappears forever into the ether or maybe a black hole, I don't really know.

Interesting weather today, big bunch of rain right in the middle of the day, not really very thunder-y. Now the sun is out again. At least we got some needed moisture.

Posted by: badsneakers | July 19, 2010 3:54 PM | Report abuse

Actually the big white board release one of mine once, but I believe you, sneaks.

Posted by: talitha1 | July 19, 2010 4:11 PM | Report abuse

I think they go into the Achenhog's trough(see graphic at the top).

We ain't getting any of those posts back except as smoking bits of electronic excrement.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | July 19, 2010 4:14 PM | Report abuse

Bless it's pointy little tail.

Posted by: talitha1 | July 19, 2010 4:26 PM | Report abuse

Tried to post earlier but away much of the day and off momentarily: Sad news about mannerly, brilliant, humane and poised scientist Stephen Schneider:

Edited him often. Gracious man who fought cancer for years, to be felled by what appears to be heart attack en route to London.

RIP: May the earth receive you lovingly, dear servant Stephen, you who measured her so well.

Posted by: CollegeQuaParkian1 | July 19, 2010 4:29 PM | Report abuse

Sorry to hear about your friend and colleague.

Posted by: yellojkt | July 19, 2010 4:43 PM | Report abuse

Yes, CqP, very sorry to hear. And thank you for sharing the link. His words show him to have been a wide-ranging thinker and compassionate steward of the earth.

Posted by: talitha1 | July 19, 2010 4:59 PM | Report abuse

I had a nice day today: watched my great niece while her parents went to my sister's father-in-law's funeral (the baby's great-grandfather).

She's gotten to know me now, so when it was time for her parents to leave when they were dropping her off, she was pushing them out the door.

They've picked her back up now and I am EXHAUSTED. That I did this every day for years is hard to believe.

Posted by: -TBG- | July 19, 2010 5:17 PM | Report abuse

Condolences, CqP. I, too, read the blog and his words. His death is a tremendous loss to the discourse, and, indeed, to the planet. In spite of his illness, he certainly died with his boots on, and he is to be commended for his work under such circumstances.

Posted by: ftb3 | July 19, 2010 5:18 PM | Report abuse

NPR had a very nice tribute to Stephen Schneider this afternoon. You didn't mention that he was a co-Nobel Prize winner with Al Gore.

Posted by: yellojkt | July 19, 2010 6:13 PM | Report abuse

CqP, I am sorry about your friend. It's always the good ones who go too soon.

Posted by: badsneakers | July 19, 2010 6:13 PM | Report abuse

TBG, that does sound like a nice way to spend some time. I haven't spent the day with a little one in quite a while and I'm uncertain of my stamina. Got a great toy stash handy, though.

Don't know if any of you have seen this commentary on the Refudiator's tweet but it's kind of fun.

Posted by: talitha1 | July 19, 2010 6:16 PM | Report abuse

While the bad ones can't go soon enough.

I'm reminded of "Bird by Bird" by Anne Lamott, which I recommend for anybody who writes-- there's a bit where her pastor friend tells her she knows she's made God in her own image when it turns out God hates all the same people she does.

Okay, comic relief moment over. I'm amazed you got to work with such a guy, CqP. I mourn with thee.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | July 19, 2010 6:19 PM | Report abuse

Once again CqP, I am in awe of your ability to connect with amazing people.

Schneider is on the A list for sure

Posted by: DNA_Girl | July 19, 2010 6:48 PM | Report abuse

CqP, Thanks for that very unfortunate but highly informative link. Stephen Schneider's "Science as a Contact Sport" is one of a group of well-received books that I ought to read, but don't know whether I'll find the time.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | July 19, 2010 7:07 PM | Report abuse

Wilbrod_Gnome, I took a couple of continuing education creative writing classes. The instructor raved about "Bird by Bird", certainly more than any of my efforts. I can't blame her.

Semi-exciting news for the next couple hours: my area of NH is being criss-crossed by severe thunderstorms. There are a couple of cells with "up to hen-egg sized hail".

The cars are in the garage. It is my only real lock-down activity. Looks like the worst of the worst will miss us.

Posted by: baldinho | July 19, 2010 7:28 PM | Report abuse

Last I checked the good duct tape was pushing $13 / roll. 'Course it was the good stuff, and a big roll. Still, my resolve quavered at the price.

Posted by: Jumper1 | July 19, 2010 8:05 PM | Report abuse

Hope all is well Baldinho. If you get really big hail, take some pics and share them with us. There is a cool breeze here on the porch right now. I can't remember the last time I was this comfortable out here. We even managed a walk tonight, something we have pretty much given up on since the heat set in.

Posted by: badsneakers | July 19, 2010 8:26 PM | Report abuse

No hail here. The front passed, and, as it has been for the summer, the bad stuff went on both sides of us. One nasty cell passed about 2-3 miles to the south. We were able to see the lightning and hear the booming thunder. We have been lucky all season.

Looks like initial reports is that an unfortunate woman in the SW part of the state was struck by lightning. I see upper middle Mass had a brief tornado watch out, but that has passed.

Posted by: baldinho | July 19, 2010 8:46 PM | Report abuse

Just saw a wasabi milkshake on TV. I must try this.

Posted by: Jumper1 | July 19, 2010 8:57 PM | Report abuse

I hear that the spike in duct tape is due to lots of hoarding up at the Possum Lodge.

Posted by: baldinho | July 19, 2010 9:02 PM | Report abuse

Jumper, you have a very adventurous palate! baldinho, funny. We love Red Green and are glad that he's still on TV in reruns. "I'm a man, but I can change, if I have to, I guess."

Posted by: badsneakers | July 19, 2010 9:10 PM | Report abuse

Do you think this Clay Shirky has seen the boodle? From Lifehacker...

"Internet expert and author Clay Shirky's new book, Cognitive Surplus: Creativity and Generosity in a Connected Age, discusses how the internet enables us to use slivers of time our culture has historically spent watching television making truly incredible things—like Wikipedia. Friend of Lifehacker Matt Haughey discusses the new book:

"The gist of the story Clay weaves is how we've spent the previous 50 years staring at televisions but the internet enables us to finally talk back, and even tiny slices of the time wasted watching TV when applied towards some collective output can result in massive repositories of information like Wikipedia. He shows many contemporary examples of online collaboration beyond and breaks down the motivations for contributors that cites plenty of sociology, psychology, and economics research to back his points up."

Posted by: -TBG- | July 19, 2010 9:35 PM | Report abuse

This is kind of interesting. Personality clash? Nefarious machinations? I'll try to keep an eye/ear out for more details.

"Departing U.N. official calls Ban's leadership 'deplorable' in 50-page memo"

Posted by: Bob-S | July 19, 2010 9:48 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for the funny funnie, DNAGirl.

i only know the climate gods because I have been laboring in that vineyard since in 1982. Was a very small intellectual community until the late 90s, then some contraction circa 911, and now, well biggish again.

One aspect of Schneider's work that is often overlooked is his call for science and environmental literacy. Even though citizens, globally, are not well informed about science and environment, Schneider ALWAYS called for the citizen component, particularly in science policy making. He was wildly supportive of citizen-science and policy participation. In 2003, he penned these ideas:

QUOTE from SSsneider:

Citizens should demand that scientists answer the "three questions of environmental literacy": What can happen? What are the odds of it happening? And how are such estimates made?

Citizens must be informed enough that they feel comfortable making value judgments — that is, choosing policies — based on scientists' assessed risks and benefits.

Citizens must determine what constitutes fair burden-sharing related to paying for the implementation of policies that manage risks.

Citizens need to assure that the assessment process is open — that is, that all relevant stakeholders are heard. However, citizens should not be responsible for estimating the credibility of scientific arguments, given their lack of training in complex analysis and frequent bias for clients' interests.

Citizens should be responsible, though, for finding out what the scientific consensus is about important claims; correlatively, scientists should be responsible for making clear what that scientific consensus is.

Citizens need to be sure that scientific assessment is being performed on issues that the public believes need such assessment.

Citizens should avoid being hypocritical by blaming others for climate damages while not themselves engaging in climate-friendly practices at the individual level.

See more about Schneider's views on citizen participation in policy making at his blog.

And this great quote from him about the variability of locally "felt" planetary warming:

For me, metaphors that convey both urgency and uncertainty are best — particularly for controversial cases like climate change. For example, I often say climate is like a die: it has some hot faces, some wet faces, some dry faces, etc. I think our (in)action on global warming is loading the climatic die for more heat and intense drought and flood faces. END QUOTE

Posted by: CollegeQuaParkian1 | July 19, 2010 9:50 PM | Report abuse

Somewhat on topic, a chance for scientist to get a look at what might have more consistently in the future.

Posted by: dmd3 | July 19, 2010 9:58 PM | Report abuse

dmd, I am no climate scientist, but temps seem to go in small cycles built around El Nino. We are in an El Nino year, I think.

Perhaps the warmth of the Great Lakes is helping to create all the high-energy storms that have been racing across upstate NY and New England?

Posted by: baldinho | July 19, 2010 10:05 PM | Report abuse

I know baldinho, it is just that with such unusually high temps in the lakes the scientists will be able to study what may happen if the temps become a more common occurrence as would happen as the climate warms.

The big storms have extended to up here as well, my area tends to miss many of them, but there have been some crazy rains this year and severe storms in the area.

Posted by: dmd3 | July 19, 2010 10:21 PM | Report abuse

El Niño has exited and La Niña entered. Which is bad news for hurricane-prone areas.

Florida fruit news: Mamey sapote from Miami-Dade County are in season. They look like fuzzy brown nerf footballs. Flesh is custardy and pink. Big dark seed. It's more or less the national fruit of Cuba, but trees don't bear as abundantly as, say, mangoes (my little Mallika mango is laden with its first crop).

The National Academies recently issued a group of reports on climate change. I have a feeling that climate science will suffer loss of funding should the appropriate House appropriations committees fall into the wrong hands.

I bet that the Louisiana governor's office is looking at ways to punish coastal scientists at state universities who raised questions about berm and rockpile projects intended to keep oil at bay.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | July 19, 2010 10:31 PM | Report abuse

Lots of things cause lots of things, but the whole point of the global warming concerns is that there's some evidence to support theories that the climate is on the verge of making (heck, is already beginning to make) swings a bit larger than the typical ENSO pattern, and that there's good reason to believe that it's more-or-less attributable to human-caused environmental effects that are accelerating. The (not by any means proved, but not-lightly-dismissed) fear is that a failure to change the trend of the environmental effects will result some pretty disruptive weather. Get enough of that disruptive weather, and at some point you gotta start calling it the new "climate".

The theories could be wrong, but they're most definitely not unsupported.

I was mildly amused when I read Al Gore's "Earth in Balance" (and later followed the "Inconvenient Truth" road show) that Jonathon Weiner's sons weren't tagging along asking for a partial share of the book & film ticket sales at each stop, because an awful lot of Gore's message had been explicated similarly by Weiner (and others, of course) previously. Even if Weiner didn't care, I'll bet his sons could have used the money.

Posted by: Bob-S | July 19, 2010 10:46 PM | Report abuse

@CqP: "Citizens must be informed enough that they feel comfortable making value judgments..."

I like the points that you cite from Prof. Schneider, and I certainly agree with the spirit of them, wholeheartedly, but I hafta say, one value judgment that most middle-class Americans have already made is that they want to be sure their own particular grandchildren won't have to go back to digging ditches. I think that's the reason why a lot of people will look for almost any reason to discount climate science.

I should definitely read his book Science as a Contact Sport. He's right about that.

Posted by: woofin | July 19, 2010 10:53 PM | Report abuse

TBG, I heard Clay Shirky on the local NPR station a while back - have his book on hold at the library. I thought about the Boodle too! Also, recently on a site for knitters and crocheters (Ravelry), about 25000 people categorized over 150,000 patterns to make the searches better - in less than one week! It was pretty astounding - I did about 134 patterns because of its strangely addictive aspect. Plus they offered prizes to participants in a random drawing (no joy for me). Very kewl.

Posted by: seasea1 | July 19, 2010 10:55 PM | Report abuse

seasea - This whole distributed-processing thing is astounding. There are sites where you can look help identify astronomical anomalies, or create digital copies of previously unavailable public domain literary works, or refine regional food recipes. Or help create a community of funny, off-beat virtual neighbors & friends who'll discuss almost anything under the sun. And if you don't have time to get involved personally, you can donate your computer's spare time to working on gene sequencing.

Lotsa fun craziness going on out there.

Posted by: Bob-S | July 19, 2010 11:12 PM | Report abuse

Woof, precisely because I SO NOT WANT my grandchildren digging ditches that I work on climate.

But, the majority of the word's people NOW dig ditches or the like for subsistence or one shade better. I want that to change now. Yesterday. This keeps me awake at night in quiet sorrow about the vast unevenness of things.

And, if we do not address these linked problems of just and sustainable distribution, well, many MORE people will die. Simply die and perhaps not quickly.

A slice will survive but at what cost to joy and comfort and conscience...we also need the poets to remind us.

From mystic and lover and man of Dod, John Donne:

No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend's or of thine own were: any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.

Meditation #17 By John Donne From Devotions upon Emergent Occasions (1623), XVII:

Nunc Lento Sonitu Dicunt, Morieris (Now this bell, tolling softly for another, says to me, Thou must die.)

Posted by: CollegeQuaParkian1 | July 19, 2010 11:13 PM | Report abuse

I know Donne was a man of God, but not of Dod. I have been thinking of that meditation lately.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | July 19, 2010 11:18 PM | Report abuse

Wow. Man of DOD. Must be sleepy. God God God. Slyness likes Donne, I know.

God night all and good bless. You know what I mean. :)

Posted by: CollegeQuaParkian1 | July 19, 2010 11:19 PM | Report abuse

Ain't nothing the matter with ditch-digging. I spend a large part of many days packing paper booklets into boxes, which (theoretically, anyway) isn't a heck of a lot more satisfying. Although it does have the advantage of taking place inside, with heat and air conditioning, as appropriate. Over the years I've done jobs that were substantially less pleasant.

What's frustrating (and I'm quite fortunate in this regard) is being stuck in a situation where you have to dig the same ditch over and over, and nobody is interested in your thoughts about how to dig a better ditch, or how to minimize the effort expended on any given ditch, or how better planning could reduce the number of ditches that you have to dig...

That stuff can weigh you down hard.

Posted by: Bob-S | July 19, 2010 11:27 PM | Report abuse

CPQ, sorry to hear of Schneider as well. A very interesting man, one who left a lot to this world.

Jumper, not only do I have several varieties and colors of duct tape (I won't buy the "duck" stuff), I also have helicopter tape and even sheet aluminum patch (Essentially, sheet aluminum on one side and adhesive on the other, used for patching aircraft. In one-foot-wide rolls and needs to be cut with tin snips or other metal shears).


Posted by: -bc- | July 19, 2010 11:47 PM | Report abuse

On another front, I'm off to spend the rest of the week at the beach with my daughters.

Notes to self: Keep the sunblock on, breathe deep and count to 10 before responding to anything and remember that fun comes first. Oh, wait...


Posted by: -bc- | July 19, 2010 11:58 PM | Report abuse

have fun at the coast, be. did you hear that if you pay gm enough that you're entitled to build parts of your own corvette? cool way to bust a knuckle.

Posted by: -jack- | July 20, 2010 12:13 AM | Report abuse

Posted by: -jack- | July 20, 2010 12:24 AM | Report abuse

Uh oh, Jonathan Yardley hates Ivan Doig's latest book:
I'll probably give it a try. His best are English Creek and Dancing at the Rascal Fair, but I like most anything he writes, because he captures Montana so well.

Posted by: seasea1 | July 20, 2010 12:35 AM | Report abuse

Enjoy the beach and demand veto power over any tattoo designs and first pick for belly button jewelry.

Posted by: yellojkt | July 20, 2010 12:35 AM | Report abuse

Have a great time with your young ladies, bc.

Himself and I had dinner with one of his suppliers this evening, and had a *great* time. Not always the case in such situations.

Posted by: Yoki | July 20, 2010 12:48 AM | Report abuse

Too hot to sleep. Tossed and turned and now up again. I guess I can post stuff and no one will notice.

I got together with a close friend this past evening for an hour. We both worked late into the evening. She laughed at the thought that I can make rice without any problem whatsoever. And, I added that making rice is probably the easiest thing to do that most people claim they can't do. She suggested housekeeping as another one of those "stumpers."

Posted by: russianthistle | July 20, 2010 1:01 AM | Report abuse

bc - Ahh, but do you have lead tape? I misused some of that (it was properly used to create custom-made RF shields for sensitive components in high-energy environments) to fashion the outline of a handgun that I inserted into the liner of an acquaintance's luggage shortly before he left on a trip that included international airline travel. Hilarity and hours-long delays ensued, apparently.

Since I'm not sure he's ever laughed about it, I try to do it for him from time to time. Ha Ha Ha.

Posted by: Bob-S | July 20, 2010 1:04 AM | Report abuse


Posted by: Yoki | July 20, 2010 1:05 AM | Report abuse

The other is not over-mixing quick bread or muffin or pancake batter or over-handling meat. My response? "Well, just don't do it. Stop sooner."

Apparently this is not helpful. Or so I am led to believe.

Posted by: Yoki | July 20, 2010 1:10 AM | Report abuse

Jumper-I noticed!
One order of fried rice, please,
with Kung Pao chicken.


Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | July 20, 2010 1:13 AM | Report abuse

How do you over mix and over handle? What do those people do, go into a trance and whip the batter for hours until it begins to crumble, or continually caress a steak for a week?

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | July 20, 2010 1:16 AM | Report abuse

On the batter, ezackly. They whip the carp out of it, until it looks like a batter for a cake from a box. They leave no lumps, not even a bit of life. So their pancakes are flat and ugly and tasteless and tough, as is their cornbread and banana/zuchini bread. To be fair, these people usually cook everything too much, also. So the light hand on the batter is not the sole culprit.

On the meat, if it is hamburgers or meatloaf, they crush and mush the ground meat and seasonings together until it is an amorphous mass with no integrity. If a steak on a grill, they press and poke and flip and flip and flip and then press again until there is no juice/fat left to be savoured. Only a Very Well Done bit of now denatured protein.

But hey! If that's how they like it, who I am to say different?

Posted by: Yoki | July 20, 2010 1:24 AM | Report abuse

SCC: the lack of a light hand

Posted by: Yoki | July 20, 2010 1:27 AM | Report abuse

There's a new TV show called "From Inedible to Incredible" which you might be able to nominate your friends for (don't know if Canadians qualify yet.)

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | July 20, 2010 1:33 AM | Report abuse

That's a hoot, Wilbrod.

But heck, if these people are my friends and I can't help them to change, why would a corporate body be more successful? I mean, they've watched me cook and then eaten the results (to near universal acclaim), and asked for my help (which has included, on some occasions, workshops in my kitchen), and still believe they will fail.

Posted by: Yoki | July 20, 2010 1:45 AM | Report abuse

I've seen the show, a similar template, but he really is a pretty good teacher, and he makes them really cook for their family and friends while they're still learning, and they have written recipes with procedures. I'm impressed. Maybe they forget but at least they cook like a chef for a week and learn not to do their bad dishes again.

Oh well, maybe they just want you to cook for them. Many people who are helpless in the kitchen simply hate cooking because of slow hand speed and attention issues.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | July 20, 2010 1:56 AM | Report abuse

Hey Yoki... Zwilling J.A. Henckels® Twin Four Star at home. Locking Thongs (no frills chef style). Spoons, healthy table spoons. Towels. Oven safe saute pans and grill pans.

Nothing for poking.

That's all what good meat dishes require.

That and the fact that our little group of chefs need to learn to allow enough time to make some of the best dishes. Some meat requires slow cooking. A customer of mine went on for five minutes about his most wonderful pot roast.

The worst sin is to compact and press a burger before or during the cooking process. The lost moister and structure is so integral to the cooking outcome. If fat is the concern, then one should consider portion control.

Above all, never poke--I totally agree.

Posted by: russianthistle | July 20, 2010 2:04 AM | Report abuse

Nope, it is not a disability (except in the case of Blind Reg -- never never give him a sharp knife [or dance with him -- we won't go there]!); it is a basic comfort with saying "Gosh, I wish I could do that, but I just can't learn." In reality, wanting validation to *not* change and that weird thing people do when they denigrate themselves and hope we'll all agree that it isn't their fault, they are simply victims of circumstance, and also assure them that they are better than that without change. "I am aware that I over-beat pancake batter, but I can't help it. My mother did so too, and so I am helpless against the compulsion to over-beat pancake batter." Puh-leeze.

I know that everyone except the mentally ill or disabled can do better than they are now (however they define 'better, and it is up to them to define it), if they want to and make an effort. The thing that drives me *mad* is people who say they want change but won't do anything to make it so. Surrender, Dorothy!

Posted by: Yoki | July 20, 2010 2:17 AM | Report abuse

I'm feeling all validated now; Weed is the meat expert and either agrees with me, or not.

Oh, and locking thongs sounds filthy. Bonus!

Posted by: Yoki | July 20, 2010 2:24 AM | Report abuse

Aw, don't slur the disabled or mentally ill-- give them the tools to cook safely and sanely, and they can do it. All they need is the desire to do so.

But yes, it's aggravating to hear the bland negativism from others. They ARE getting something out of their "flawed" cooking.

Food, since it is so linked to family, is too often a psychological control issue, and that inner drama doesn't stop when people leave home.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | July 20, 2010 2:31 AM | Report abuse

I didn't slur anybody, I made specific exceptions for my blanket stereotype of the happily helpless.

Posted by: Yoki | July 20, 2010 2:35 AM | Report abuse

and I would add, which I normally don't, because I belong to a secular community that believes that good done and spoken-about is less worthy than anonymous helping-of-others (because it says 'Look at the good I am doing!'), that I regularly (that is, weekly) teach a class at the local drop-in shelter in line cooking; a good way to get a bad but sustainable job if one has been homeless.

Posted by: Yoki | July 20, 2010 2:41 AM | Report abuse

Okay. My gut reaction was, not all disabled or mentally ill are incapable of learning how to do better.
There are deaf-blind chefs, after all.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | July 20, 2010 2:44 AM | Report abuse

That gives you a very solid basis to compare people's aptitudes and attitudes towards cooking, then, Yoki.

Food is such a control issue that I think that's what is at work here. Why else would they ask your time and not actually do their part to learn?

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | July 20, 2010 2:53 AM | Report abuse

Agreed. But still nobody should give my buddy Reg a sharp knife (nor dance with him).

Posted by: Yoki | July 20, 2010 3:03 AM | Report abuse

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

Good morning, friends. I'm off this morning to Raleigh, NC to join a march sponsored by the NAACP. I'm taking the g-girl so she can pick up on history in the making or perhaps a good civic lesson. It seems the Wake County school board has decided to re-introduce the "separate, but equal" policy in the school system there. Many of the school boards here in the South have tried their darndest to get away from busing, and they never give up. They work at this constantly, trying to take us back to segregated schools.

Of course, I can't march, just be there to show support for those that can.

Separate, but equal, was never equal. I speak from experience.

Have a great day, folks, and love to all.

Posted by: cmyth4u | July 20, 2010 5:22 AM | Report abuse

BP got caught by WaPo of photoshopping a picture of the Command Center (presumably the one Joel visited) to make it look like more ROV cameras were on than there really were. Not only was it done to deceive us in some unnecessary way, but it was done incompetently. At least they remain true to form.

Posted by: yellojkt | July 20, 2010 6:03 AM | Report abuse

What a great thing to do. You need to be a living reminder that we cannot slip back into the past. Keep up the good work.

Posted by: yellojkt | July 20, 2010 6:07 AM | Report abuse

From today's article on the Macandcheese well disaster:

///One witness described how BP mixed a large quantity of two chemicals and injected them into the well to flush out drilling mud. But the chemicals aren't usually mixed together, and the injection of more than 400 barrels of dense, gray fluid were about double the quantity normally used for the task, said Leo Lindner, a drilling fluid specialist for contractor M-I Swaco.

The reason for the action: BP had hundreds of barrels of the two chemicals on hand and needed to dispose of it, Lindner testified. By first flushing it into the well, the company could take advantage of an exemption in an environmental law that otherwise would have prohibited the discharge of the hazardous waste into the gulf, he said. ///

Hey, if they can make well drilling mud from radioactive waste, I have a great business plan.

Posted by: yellojkt | July 20, 2010 6:52 AM | Report abuse

jkt, I also had an old sofa that I couldn't even give away that BP agreed to inject into the drilling mud. I really appreciate their help.

Posted by: russianthistle | July 20, 2010 7:20 AM | Report abuse

Oh jeez, why does that not surprise me? Corporate competence is too much to ask of BP, as we've seen.

Cassandra, I hope you have a great day with the g-girl. Wake's problems have made the paper here. I was against going back to neighborhood schools in Charlotte-Mecklenburg, a huge mistake IMHO. But it's what the court ordered.

In spite of all the problems, and they are legion, I think CMS does a creditable job. The front page story this morning is that test scores are improving. That is truly great news.

CqP, thinking about you in the loss of your friend and colleague. A great loss for all of us who care about the earth.

Yoki, I'd love to be in a cooking class that you teach!

I dread La Nina, it means drought in the Southeast. Hopefully it won't last long.

Posted by: slyness | July 20, 2010 8:02 AM | Report abuse

Good morning everyone.

CP - I am just now discovering Schneider's work. What a loss in so many ways.

Lots of interesting things going on with the Demon Well. I just read the possibility of a "Static Kill," which is a d-over of the Top Kill, but without that pesky hole to let all the mud escape. This certainly sounds intriguing.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | July 20, 2010 8:09 AM | Report abuse

What was that again, yello? *ears perking* :-)

*back-in-the-office-dagnabit Grover waves*

Posted by: Scottynuke | July 20, 2010 8:28 AM | Report abuse

'morning all. For the first times in, like, weeks, we have a cool morning. What a nice relief.
Yoki, my MIL is a stabber. She keeps stabbing the poor steaks/chops/patties with a fork. She wonders why her BBQ meat is dry and lifeless. Sigh. Another common mistake is starting with very cold meat. I know, I know, the Meat Police tells you to keep it at 4C or less but this is BS. Unless it is ground meat coming from 40 different cows from 3 continents and 20 countries (that is, large scale commercial hamburger)it's OK to let it come up to near room temperature.

Witch no. 2 got her lesson in class society on the highways of Cuba. Government officials drive their Audi/Volkswagen on the 120km/lane, modern Chinese buses, small Chinese cars and 50's American cars drive in the 80 km/h lane, wawas and assorted dilapidated cars drive in the 30 km/h lane and the peons use the dirt track on the side of the highway with their small horses pulling huge carts filled with people and ag goods. I got a nice Che mug out of the deal. Viva la revolution!

Always remember to wear a helmet when going to a car race. Those Spanish speaking Golfs, the SEAT Leons, are pretty sturdy, nobody got hurt. Last weekend at Brands Hatch.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | July 20, 2010 8:31 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, y’all.

Warm muffins, peach cobbler, coffee and OJ on the table.

Cassandra, you absolutely rock!

Yoki, as someone with extremely limited use of her arms & hands, I can attest that good cooking is still possible. I have trained my carers in the arts of grilling steak, making guacamole, mixing the perfect muffin batter vs. cookie batter vs. peach cobbler crust, and so on. Yes, it’s technically not me who’s cooking, but it’s my solution to getting tasty results out of my kitchen. That said, not everyone’s wired in that way. Your friends who are challenged boiling water are fortunate to have you as a friend, and in turn, they’re probably facile at something you’re not.

Snuke, I figured you’d perk up at yello’s thoughts of putting radioactive waste in the drilling mud. The possibilities here boggle the imagination. Get yourselves a good patent attorney but quick!

Shriek, I envision a whole new fashion accessory line: designer helmets for spectators.

Off to do some serious decluttering the next few days.

Posted by: MsJS | July 20, 2010 9:19 AM | Report abuse

Morning, y'all!

Overnight cooking confab was a delight. I call the pokers, stabbers and overbeaters "hoverchefs", modeled on the helecopter-parent. So concerned they'll make a mistake that they overdo everything.

Looking forward Mr.A's dispatches from the Gulf.

Posted by: talitha1 | July 20, 2010 9:38 AM | Report abuse

Something tells me that Mudge would have a few trenchant comments to make about this-

Posted by: kguy1 | July 20, 2010 9:57 AM | Report abuse

'is' rushing?

Posted by: bh72 | July 20, 2010 10:03 AM | Report abuse

Yup, simple locking tongs. Not fancy frilly ones. Not BBQ set ones--you know, the ones that have the tensile strength of thin spaghetti after 10 minutes in boiling water.

Posted by: russianthistle | July 20, 2010 10:21 AM | Report abuse

Nor Chef's Thongs... those are often not a good bet, either.

Posted by: russianthistle | July 20, 2010 10:23 AM | Report abuse

Depends on the chef, weed... *pointedly not mentioning any particular Food Network celebrities* :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | July 20, 2010 10:27 AM | Report abuse

You need to keep your thing for Alton Brown under wraps.

Posted by: yellojkt | July 20, 2010 10:31 AM | Report abuse

Everyone knows I greatly enjoyed "Feasting on Asphalt," yello. :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | July 20, 2010 10:36 AM | Report abuse

My tongs are not even locking. OK, I admit my kitchen tool drawer is a mess. Sue me.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | July 20, 2010 10:47 AM | Report abuse

Alton did a whole show about not overbeating the muffin batter. 8^))

Posted by: talitha1 | July 20, 2010 10:48 AM | Report abuse


Posted by: talitha1 | July 20, 2010 10:50 AM | Report abuse

So Alton butters his batter instead?

Posted by: Scottynuke | July 20, 2010 11:00 AM | Report abuse

My brother got a handy-dandy meat fork with a built in thermometer. He was so proud of it. He poked holes in the tenderloin repeatedly. I told him his instrument was an abomination. How crestfallen he was, I don't know; he hid his reaction well. He regularly consults me, though. I vehemently lectured him on letting the meat rest for a few minutes prior to cutting. He asked how long, and I said "Five minutes after your wife tells you to serve dinner." That was about right.

Posted by: Jumper1 | July 20, 2010 11:02 AM | Report abuse

This guy knows how to teach!

Posted by: kguy1 | July 20, 2010 11:16 AM | Report abuse

jumper... you just reminded me of a memory I had deeply repressed. We went to a friend's house for a cookout many years ago. He boasted of his delicious "slow-cooked steak on the grill." You can just imagine how that turned out.

Posted by: -TBG- | July 20, 2010 11:16 AM | Report abuse

This subject is fraught with entendre of the double and treble sort. Allowing the roast a respite once taken from the oven is imperative, yes.

Posted by: talitha1 | July 20, 2010 11:17 AM | Report abuse

The article about the rush for Texas gun permits featured a photo taken at a Wimberley, TX gun range. That somehow led me to this site for a Wimberley artist (Scott Wade) whose chosen medium is dirty car windows.

Gosh, I love the internet!

Posted by: bobsewell | July 20, 2010 11:22 AM | Report abuse

Dirtycarart did a Georgia O'Keefe portrait, Babe the pig, and the Girl with the Pearl Earring! Be still my heart.
Fun site, Bob, thanks.

Posted by: talitha1 | July 20, 2010 11:40 AM | Report abuse

Original text:

"My brother got a handy-dandy meat fork with a built in thermometer. He was so proud of it. He poked holes in the tenderloin repeatedly. I told him his instrument was an abomination."

...40 translations later we get:

"Then my brother, Big Fish is easy. I'm proud of myself. I was in the hole. They called me crazy."


Posted by: Jumper1 | July 20, 2010 11:49 AM | Report abuse

*faxing and otherwise sending enough supportive karma to fill a bazillion battleships for what she's doing today*

My African houseguest told me a story over breakfast this morning -- a conversation he had yesterday with a colleague from a different African country (East African), who told him that because, e.g., the road and transportation system here was better than in his country, that must mean that whites are better than blacks. I had to wipe up the explosion, of course, but what a crock! My guy straightened up the other guy's way of thinking in a nanosecond, but what a set of assumptions to live on. I suspect that it's not unusual, no matter the venue.

*shaking head in sadness*

On to my brief, which shall not remain as brief as it is right now. I plan to get plenty of pages outta this one. Very cool subject matter, too.

Cya later.

Posted by: ftb3 | July 20, 2010 11:57 AM | Report abuse

BTW, will there be a BPH on the 28th? If so, where?

Posted by: ftb3 | July 20, 2010 11:59 AM | Report abuse

Back in about 1980, BroJS told me that if someone ever invented the digital fork, he'll know the apocalypse is near.

He's been looking over his shoulder ever since I bought him a grill fork/digital thermometer as a gag gift several years ago.

Posted by: MsJS | July 20, 2010 12:00 PM | Report abuse

Here's a case of compassion v. schadenfreude... At least until he makes it political:

Posted by: Scottynuke | July 20, 2010 12:14 PM | Report abuse

Hey, Snuke -- ever wonder what *really* is making him go blind? And he admits that he's too lazy to learn Braille?

Words fail me (which isn't normal for me, as the Boodle well knows). . . .

Posted by: ftb3 | July 20, 2010 12:18 PM | Report abuse

Am I the only one questioning how true that Beck story is?

Posted by: dmd3 | July 20, 2010 12:29 PM | Report abuse

Snuke, mister was at a neighbor's home* yesterday who was watching Beck's show when he announced the diagnosis. He didn't politicize it but did his bi-polar crying/clowning routine according to "my source". Sympathies, regardless.

*don't ask, this is Republican country, after all.

Posted by: talitha1 | July 20, 2010 12:29 PM | Report abuse

Well, sympathies if true. I don't wish bad stuff on "anyone".

Posted by: talitha1 | July 20, 2010 12:32 PM | Report abuse

It was the line in the story about he may go blind, "or not" that stuck with me, and made me think it was possible there would be embellishment. Not to make light of the disease but to highlight how low opinion I have of Beck that he would stoop so low.

Posted by: dmd3 | July 20, 2010 12:35 PM | Report abuse

Jumper, I couldn't get any funny results until I edited down, and really only funny in comparison to the original.

"Claws gripping branches thick as beer cans, Our folded wing feathers dowsing the breezes Listening to the floated conversations of crows Squabbling over scraps between rumble of trucks"

...56 translations later we get:

"Electric Boilers, sport and communication lines available."

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | July 20, 2010 12:39 PM | Report abuse

'Course Glenn Beck's comment about going to the best doctor he could find while he still could was a gratuitous fear sound bite.

It ignores the 10's of millions without health insurance who wouldn't have such a choice without health care reform, or that his choices are largely dictated by his employer's health insurer and not by federal law.

According to the National Federation of the Blind, only 10% of blind children in the US are taught Braille, so should he lose his sight Mr. Beck will be in good company.

Posted by: MsJS | July 20, 2010 12:40 PM | Report abuse

Too lazy to learn braille. So he's willing to become an illiterate idiot for real?

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | July 20, 2010 12:44 PM | Report abuse

Mind you, braille is difficult and slow to use, but even so, I've never known anybody going blind who said "oh I'm too lazy to learn that."

More like "I tried, but it's really hard." I guess Glenn Beck doesn't want to admit life gets hard and that people who can't do stuff aren't really too lazy.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | July 20, 2010 12:49 PM | Report abuse

Beck going blind? I'll believe it when I see it. (sorry) I'm with dmd, I wouldn't believe him if he said the sky was blue.

Speaking of that, very nice day here, still warm but not completely oppressive, altho' I did sweat bullets when I was working in the garden this morning. And it's still not cool enough to wear my hair down (don't remember the last time I wore it that way, end of June maybe?)

Posted by: badsneakers | July 20, 2010 12:53 PM | Report abuse

Mind you that with voice recognition and text-to-speech technologies being what they are now Braille is on the decline and headed fast to oblivion.
The Internet Big Box of Books sold more e-book than dead-tree version this year. All available for text-to-speech.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | July 20, 2010 12:57 PM | Report abuse

So if Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh combine shows, would it be called The Evil Twins: See No Evil and Hear No Evil?

Posted by: yellojkt | July 20, 2010 12:58 PM | Report abuse

My bloody phone does a credible t-t-s job with SMS and the program (in Android at least) was free.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | July 20, 2010 12:59 PM | Report abuse

Combined with all he has done in the past, Beck will forever live in infamy in my book for his planned gathering next month at the Lincoln Memorial on the anniversary of the I Have a Dream Speech/March on Washington.

Posted by: talitha1 | July 20, 2010 1:00 PM | Report abuse

I'm willing to take him at his word on something like this. And, assuming his popularity remains high, he'll be provided with assistants to support him at work. That would make it less imperative for him to learn Braille.

Sneaks, at least you have a summer this year. Wasn't the Bahsten area unusually cool last summer?

Posted by: MsJS | July 20, 2010 1:03 PM | Report abuse

Well, Braille is of limited use as long as a person has low vision and access to readers, but it's always helpful in bad visual conditions.

Macular dystrophy is a progressive and genetic condition, so he's most likely going legally blind-- blurred vision, poorer color vision, and hatred for bright light. He will get around, but he won't read faces or print well. He's likely had this since childhood, more or less.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | July 20, 2010 1:04 PM | Report abuse

Better yet the Evil Twins should do like the third monkey and shut tf up.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | July 20, 2010 1:07 PM | Report abuse

The Evil Twins haven't reached the evolutionary stage of the third monkey.

Posted by: talitha1 | July 20, 2010 1:16 PM | Report abuse

Shrieking, braille can't go entirely extinct because deaf-blind can't use voice technologies. The gizmos for text to tactile output technologies are awfully expensive, though.

It's stunning how expensive it can be to be blind-- other than cochlear implants and digital hearing aids, deaf people really do often live much cheaper with their handicaps.

Tactile braille screens exist for the blind, I found it really interesting. Jaws is no doubt much faster and easier to use if one can do it.

There's now more work on haptic/tactile technologies, too. I figure if such technologies can make tactile p0rn exist, the market will be endless and make that technology really cheap and widespread enough to be easily adapted to all sensory needs.

The problem with extremely specialized devices for the disabled is that the market tends to be small unless it's a simple adaption of commonly used technology, and then that might be too unprofitable to sell well. Braille has this problem.

It's much easier to design a common market item to be accessible with minor modifications-- or none, what we call Universal Access design. This needs to be tactile, not verbal.

Consider the fact that if you're blind and don't speak the language you could be stuck at an ATM lacking braille guides for the numbers, while a sighted user who is similarly influent can use visual cues-- numbers, layout, and common sense to get his money.

We have touch screen keyboards, but they're missing touch feedback right now; even simple, narrowly focused vibrations (safely calibrated for human touch) and soft beeps could create the impression of a keypad and help signal what the numbers and characters being pressed are.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | July 20, 2010 1:23 PM | Report abuse

A nice tribute to Stephen Schneider at Nature:

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | July 20, 2010 1:39 PM | Report abuse

I tried to learn braille, but the only thing I got out of it were headaches, so I quit trying. It's on my list of failures.

Posted by: WhackyWeasel | July 20, 2010 1:49 PM | Report abuse

So it's a good thing you're so brilliant at alternatives? :)

happy you're here.

Posted by: -dbG- | July 20, 2010 1:52 PM | Report abuse

WhackyWeasel - I think you're supposed to use your fingers to feel the dots, not your nose or forehead.

Posted by: bobsewell | July 20, 2010 1:54 PM | Report abuse

A colleague here wouldn't agree on the cheapness of deafness Wilbrod. She complains, rightly in my opinion, that our health plan is terrible with regards with hearing aids. The plan's maximum payout is half what her aids really cost and the plan pays once every 5 years while she has to change them every 2-3 years. As she said everyone gets sick or has a toothache once in a while but earing aid users are far less in the mind of our unions when they negociate improvements in the plans. So the medication and dental plan gets better but the hearing aid plan is still stuck in the eighties. Better than nuttin' but still.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | July 20, 2010 2:06 PM | Report abuse

The hearing aid manufacturers need better lobbyists.

Posted by: bobsewell | July 20, 2010 2:08 PM | Report abuse

Exactly. It's pretty hard to use for any major reading until you learn how to do so smoothly. I've tried it and it definitely requires a certain style of touch.

I know A-E or 1-5 and that's about it, but that'd be enough to orient my fingers and identify how a keyboard is organized.

Moon code (raised print) could also work for orientation, but that's really big and slow for small fingers to read.

The most readable tactile letters I ever touched were those old label makers that punch letters really sharply and thinly in thick tape.

I don't know if they (or the tape so used) are made anymore now that computer printers can whip up labels in seconds.

Actually, 50% of blind kids in the US know braille, but only 10% use it as their main reading medium. This is in part due to mainstreaming, reducing qualified instruction to kids in braille. It has benefits for life-long literacy and vocabulary growth, so it's not really "outdated"-- it's undertaught.

I feel weird talking about tactile reading because I have no expectancy of going blind, hopefully, but I liked the idea of being able to read in the dark.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | July 20, 2010 2:11 PM | Report abuse

On the other hand, cochlear implants are covered by insurance, Shrieking-- law. Annoying.

Yes, hearing aids have gotten better and more expensive since I was a kid. I haven't used them since I was 12 and was actually allowed to jettison them. I only had one pair in my life, other than a loaner for school when I was young.

My friends have more useful hearing, so I've learned about the digital hearing aids. Pretty nifty, they might have been less painful for me as a kid, don't know if they'd ever have allowed me to use my hearing.

Wilbrodog does better than any hearing aid I've ever had, because he can direct me to sound and works when I'm asleep, and I just understand him better than I ever understood those painmakers.

But even the most expensive digital hearing aid are still cheaper than devices for the blind. I did the research. I'm talking five thousand and up for a tactile version of something as simple as a blackberry.

I can get a text messenging plan for much cheaper than that.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | July 20, 2010 2:23 PM | Report abuse

I had an acquaintance who lost both his sight and hearing (among other injuries) in a helicopter crash in Vietnam. At the time I knew him in the early 80s he had learned enough Braille to have a part-time job at the Library of Congress helping in translating (if that's the word) texts as well as filing work.

We, meaning my son and I, could only communicate with him by tracing letters into his palm, though I had a few simple ASL phrases that helped. Obviously the fact that he was sighted and hearing for 20-odd years made a great deal of difference. I admired him very much for his patience with himself and with everyone else.

Posted by: talitha1 | July 20, 2010 2:23 PM | Report abuse

Bro#2JS is blind and manages to live quite simply and inexpensively, Wilbrod, so it can be done.

For him, part of the reason he learned Braille was the process of learning it. Developing his other senses, taking advantage of that avenue to connect with things sighted people are connected to, and so forth. He was told that the vast majority of employed blind people know Braille whether they use it at work or not, so that was also an incentive.

Posted by: MsJS | July 20, 2010 2:24 PM | Report abuse

New kit!

Posted by: ScienceTim | July 20, 2010 2:25 PM | Report abuse

DYMO is still in business and still makes embossing labels, although the label makers have evolved.

Posted by: kguy1 | July 20, 2010 2:27 PM | Report abuse

About ten years ago, I was diagnosed with macular degeneration and told that in ten years I would not be able to read. Well, I can still read. I have to use magnifying glasses that I buy off the drugstore rack.

However, I don't see the dotted lines dividing comments here as straight lines. I see them as having peaks and segments above the lines and below them.

Oddly, as I became older my distance vision became almost perfect. I don't need glasses for driving. I have given up night driving. Out on the divided four lane I'm OK, but on the two lane roads the oncoming headlights blind me.

I am having trouble with needlework without stronger magnification than my glasses provide. but a good friend gave me a clamp-on lighted magnifyer that I need to learn to use.

Posted by: Manon1 | July 20, 2010 2:45 PM | Report abuse

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