Saturday, June 26, 2010

A Very Young Rod Sings Acapella

Oh Rod Stewart, what happened to you?

Here's one more from 1972--with Rod reading the lyrics for "You Wear it Well."

Curiously enough, the band seems to be following some sort of dress code; everyone has to wear yellow. Except the violin player, who looks like someone's dad.

Last one, live Faces from 1973.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

We're funding both sides of the war in Afghanistan!

Yeppers, that's right. We're paying contractors, who are paying off the Taliban to let the contractors employees work without getting killed. The Taliban are then taking your and my tax dollars and using it to kill fellow Americans. A perfect circle. Whar are we doing over there, again?

Private security contractors protecting the convoys that supply U.S. military bases in Afghanistan are paying millions of dollars a week in "passage bribes" to the Taliban and other insurgent groups to travel along Afghan roads, a congressional investigation released Monday has found.

The payments, which are reimbursed by the U.S. government, help fund the very enemy the U.S. is attempting to defeat and renew questions about the U.S. dependence on private contractors, who outnumber American troops in Afghanistan, 130,000 to 93,000.

From McClatchy News Service.
Read more:

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Remember that last oil crisis? Summer of '08? When prices were so high?

Here's an explanation of how they pulled it off; notice that BP was one of the players.

According to [Victor] Davis, the scam starts in 2000 with the formation of the ICE - the Intercontinental Exchange. The ICE - founded by Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, BP, Total, Shell, Deutsche Bank and Societe Generale - is an online commodities and futures marketplace that exists outside the US and operates free from the constraints of US laws.

After a Congressional investigation into energy trading in 2003, the ICE was found to be facilitating "round-trip" trades. This is where one firm sells energy to another, and then the second firm sells the same amount of energy back to the first company, at the same time and at the exact same price, as told by Davis.

No commodity ever changes hands

Quite shockingly no commodity ever changes hands, but the transactions still send a signal to the market, artificially boosting company revenue. Angry yet? There's more.

Because the trading is unregulated by Washington, its difficult to gauge the scale on which "round-trip" trading takes place.

But when DMS Energy were investigated by Congress, the company admitted that 80 percent of its trades in 2001 were round-trip trades. This means 80 percent of all trades in that year were false trades. Not a drop of oil changed hands, but the balance sheets showed increased revenue.

The idea is to hike up commodity prices. For example, according to Davis, after the ICE turned commodity trading into a "speculative casino game where pricing was notional and contracts could be sold by people who never produced a thing, to people who didn't need the things that were not produced", Goldman Sachs were able to triple the price of commodities in just five years.

ICE can create artificial shortages and drive speculative demand

The beauty (or rather the horror) of the scam outlined by Davis is that because they control the oil markets, the ICE can create artificial shortages and drive speculative demand in order to charge consumers an extra dollar per gallon of gas. And whereas this may not seem like much, this $1 soon becomes $50 billion A MONTH as global drivers consume 1.7 billion gallons of gas every single day.

Looks like BP should have plenty of cash on hand squirreled away somewhere.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Wanna see what 25,000 barrels look like?

25,000 barrels is the current (assumed) oil flow directly into the Gulf of Mexico.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

It turns out we are living in a libertarian paradise. Cheers!

Regulations permit oil and gas industry to regulate itself. The Interior Department’s Minerals Management Service—the agency responsible for managing oil and gas resources on the Outer Continental Shelf and collecting royalties from companies—decided in 2005 that oil companies, rather than the government, were in the best position to determining their operations’ environmental impacts. This meant that there was no longer any need for an environmental impact analysis for deepwater drilling, though an earlier draft stated that such drilling experience was limited. In fact, MMS “repeatedly ignored warnings from government scientists about environmental risks in its push to approve energy exploration activities quickly, according to numerous documents and interviews.” And an interior general analysis even found that between 2005 and 2007 MMS officials let the oil industry to fill out their own inspection reports.

Got that? NO ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT STATEMENT NEEDED FOR DEEPWATER DRILLING. BP cut every possible corner on that well, they had no safety plan if something went wrong, because the US Governmant apparently have all the copies of "Atlas Shrugged" checked out of their libraries. Here's proof -- ll dead, uninmaginable disaster in the Gulf of Mexico -- that perhaps a bit of oversight is a good thing. Let's think about this. If you're a rational human and you know your own very personal bonus depends on you saving money, and there is no regulation forcing you to, say, drill a safe well, well then why not maximize your personal wealth, plus looking good to your supervisors?

Environment? What's that? Something you see out the window?

Quote above, and many more environmental time bombs planted by the Bssh administration, found here.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Jesus doesn't want me for a sunbeam.

For various reasons, seemed appropriate. I'm pretty sure I've posted the Vaseline's original; but my, don't expect me to cry for all the reasons that died. Don't expect me to cry, don't expect me to lie, don't expect me to die for thee.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

A real poet, a real singer, a real man, for a brief 26 years.

In spite of the fact that the almost-forgotten Gram Parsons was one of the best singer-songwriters of that brief interlude between the 60's and the 70's, no to mention one of the best looking men; there seems to be very little live video of him. But I found a bit. Deal with the blur.

Here's another song, said to be live, but with just random pictures. Still beautiful. Beautiful, beautiful.

I have a theory. Gram Parsons was Country. Country people have no (or even negative) taste, and so ignore him. Rockers hear the word "country" and run for the hills, not realizing the beauty they are missing, and the slight amount of amusement to be found in such behavior.

I leave you with a beautiful bit of very early Gram; thank you Paul, for introducing me to this amazing song:

French Punk

In the spirit of this beautiful day, I decided to give my faithfull (like Marianne) readers a treat! 1970'S French Punk. Turn it up loud.

Rock Steady

It is an unimaginably georgeous day in Portland today. OK, what inspired this post is that somehow I was subjected to "classic rock," where I heard a Paul Rogers song that threw me into a complete tizzy. The song--horrible; his voice? Perfection. Serious synapse-frying moment.

It turns out we have a "Bad Company" album that I just listened to on the porch. It was perfect for an early summer day. I adore Paul Rogers's voice. It is not a surprise that Queen decided to use him as a fill-in for Freddie Mercury. (I actually prefer Paul's voice, even if it didn't have the range; it's more supple and sweet and subtle.) I just hate everything that he sang. Pretty much. But that voice! Perfect summer music. My new goal is to acquire some Lynrd Skynnrd (OK, I can't spell the name, but I blame it on "Free Bird.")

So, for the feat of getting through this entire post, here's some "Bad Company" from back in the day before Paul Rogers discovered that mysterious clothing item "Shirts." (On edit; crap, he has a shirt on. I managed to pick the only video of all that I previewed with this aberration.)

Yet another depressing post on the oil spill--now with bonus angst

Here's the best comment I have ever seen on what is happening right now at the Deepwater-Horizon oil spill disaster--things are much worse than I realized; the entire well is eroding and may now be collapsing. If that happens, then not only will the well not be able to be killed using the relief wells, but the entire reservoir of oil in the underlying formation may bleed out into the gulf. Hope he's wrong.

Here's a guy who seems to know what he's talking about (but I have no idea) who analyzes the well design, does an analysis and seems pretty sure that the well was seriously underdesigned and pretty much guaranteed to fail. Scroll down to post 2262. (Not a typo.)
In other words, due to the way this well was designed to be hung off, it was designed to have a blowut in the production casing by intermediate annulus or at the very least have severe casing problems.
This combined with the substandard cement job with nitrogen injected cement was the single most improtant contributing factor to this occurance.

Even grimmer news is reported on this website, which states that a Russian deepsea team in a deep submergence vehicle surveyed the sea floor around the well and found that the seabed has fractured and oil is leaking out from at least 18 other sites. There seems to be no other mention of the Russian team working with BP that I could find, so take the report as you will. However, a huge underwater plume with heavy, thick, dark oil was found by a Louisiana team of scientists. I had heard about various plumes in the media, as well as various seabed leaks but with some suggestion that these leaks were natural. Now, I doubt it.

As further proof that the BP well blowout fractured the sea floor, there's this:
Today Matt Simmons, one of the largest investment bankers in the energy industry appeared on Bloomberg. The chairman of Simmons & Co. INTL went on to explain that there is much more to the oil leak than the news has been reporting. Last Sunday, NOAA confirmed reports of a second fissure about 5-7 miles from the original. This new fissure appears to be releasing a plume the size of Delaware and Maryland combined! He went on to state that “the plume from the riser is minor thing… the best estimate is about 120,000 barrels of oil per day”.
Found here. More info on Matt Simmons.

For what it's worth, lots of reasonable people think Matt Simmons is a kook, and the above website posting about Russia also looks pretty kooky.

Here's another interesting link, found by commenter GreenFloyd at In it, the team that set up the Graphic Information System (GIS) for this disaster explains how they were fired; all of the GIS information collected by various US agencies such as the Coast Guard (your tax dollars at work) is now being sent directly to BP, never to be seen again. How are they getting away with this? It's pretty clear we're not the boss of them.

Friday, June 11, 2010

A humerous interlude

Not waving but drowning -- or a tale of dispersants.

Listening to the news, I would think  that the dispersants  that BP are  uh, dispersing in the water  around the oil leak are nothing but good news.  I heard yesterday that they just make the oil drops smaller, and all-around easier for the naturally-occurring oil eating bacteria to gobble up.  The oil is also much less likely to appear on the surface.   This didn't sound right to me.  Dispersants are basically fancy versions of Dawn dishwashing liquid, and I don't ever remember using it  to help bacteria grow on my dishes.  So, I did some snooping around.

Turns out the  main dispersant being used is Corexit.  What do we know about Corexit?  Not much, it turns out.  Chemicals don't have to be tested for safety!  Rather, the EPA has to prove that a chemical is unsafe prior to getting it pulled.

As incredible as it may seem, when [The Toxic Substances Control Act] TSCA was enacted in 1976, the law “grandfathered” the 62,000 chemicals then available for use in Commerce, without requiring that a basic set of information be disclosed about those chemicals, that they be tested, or that they meet a safety standard.   Since then another 22,000 chemicals have entered the market, also without sufficient information, testing, or a requirement to meet a health-protective safety standard.   From the NDRC blog.

 Basically, BP has been ordered to use a safer dispersent, but refuses to because they say that they have no way of knowing whether the suggested dispersants are safer or not, or even what are in them, because the information is proprietary.  This is insane.  We are pumping something like 60,000 gallons of something that potentially more dangerous than the oil itself to dispurse the oil.

What  I think is happening is that BP thought that they could make it appear (by way lowballing the estimates of leaking oil and by dispursing the oil (hiding it  below the surface) that the leak is  nowhere as bad as it  is. 

What I want to know is why  isn't the news reporting this? I'm also appalled by the complete lack of regulation in the chemical industry.   Someone has  friends in  high places. 

For more information, I suggest reading the testimony of Gina M. Solomon, M.D., M.P.H. before Congress 6/10/10, a portion of which I quote below.
Several weeks ago, the EPA told BP that it must identify a safer and more effective
dispersant within 24 hours, and must switch to safer dispersants within three days. This was a good idea for health and the environment. BP should be required to use the safest and most effective approaches possible, rather than the most convenient or cheapest products. There are dispersants that have already been approved by EPA that appear to be both much safer and more effective than the ones BP has chosen.13 
I looked into the toxicity of the Corexit 9500 and 9527 products that BP has been using, and had concerns, especially for worker safety and for the health of fish and marine mammals. The ingredients in these products - even the 2-butoxyethanol which worries me most - might not be a problem if used in small amounts. But the use of over 700,000 gallons of even modestly toxic chemicals can become a serious problem. 
When BP released their response14 to the EPA order on dispersants, the flaws of the U.S. chemical safety system became clear. BP refused to switch dispersants because, among other reasons, they say there’s not enough information about their safety.
Tables in the BP memo contain a row that is supposed to list: “Persistence,
bioaccumulation, and chronic effects, and endocrine disruption” for the various
dispersants, but the boxes in that section contain the words “Proprietary mixture” for almost all the products. That means that the public has no access to the full ingredients lists of these products, or any ability to independently verify their safety. Amazingly, neither, apparently, does BP. 
In fact, the BP memo complains about the information gap and cites this as a reason for not switching to other dispersants. But the information gaps don’t stop there: Major portions of BP’s memo have been redacted, so the public can’t even review much of BP’s analysis of the alternatives.

According to one of the commentors at my favorite blog, widespread use of dispersants can create dead zones in the ocean. I'll keep on reading.

If you're still curious, here's a nice summary article by Pro Publica.

Thanks to commenters at for pointing me to most of these sites.

A poem for the moment

The Purse-seine, by Robinson Jeffers, 1937
.......I cannot tell you
How beautiful the scene is, and a little terrible,
then, when the crowded fish
Know they are caught, and wildly beat from one wall
to the other of their closing destiny the
Water to a pool of flame, each beautiful slender body
sheeted with flame, like a live rocket
A comet's tail wake of clear yellow flame; while outside
the narrowing
Floats and cordage of the net great sea-lions come up
to watch, sighing in the dark; the vast walls
of night
Stand erect to the stars.
Lately I was looking from a night mountain-top
On a wide city, the colored splendor, galaxies of light:
how could I help but recall the seine-net
Gathering the luminous fish? I cannot tell you how
beautiful the city appeared, and a little terrible.
I thought, We have geared the machines and locked all together
into inter-dependence; we have built the great cities; now
There is no escape. We have gathered vast populations incapable
of free survival, insulated
From the strong earth, each person in himself helpless, on all
dependent. The circle is closed, and the net
Is being hauled in.......

Thank you Steven Earl Salmony for posting this  at

The Obama administration is in BP's pocket and is f***ing us over

Forgive the bad word, but sometimes a nice anglo-saxon expletive is what is needed.  OK, the word didn't show up until the 14th century in English, but it definitely descends from the old German, where it meant approximately the same thing.

Point 1:  BP payed off the Obama administration and other politicians "spending just shy of $20 million on federal lobbying over the last two years". Very clever.  

Point 2:  The Obama administration is stuffed full with former BP executives.  (We must assume they must jostle for room with the Goldman-Sachs boys.)

The regulatory agency for the deep-sea drilling vampires (don't believe the vampire hype, they're really in the hire of those with the deepest pockets; how else do they pay for the dry-cleaning bills on their lace shirts?) is MMS, the Land and Minerals Management agency.  Obama hired someone off an 8 year stint as an executive at BP (Sylvia Baco) as a deputy administrator.

What did this get BP?

Federal documents show that the Department of the Interior's Minerals Management Service (MMS) gave BP a "categorical exclusion" on April 6, 2009 to commence drilling with Deepwater Horizon even though it had not produced the impact study required by a law known as the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). The report would have included probable ecological consequences in the event of a spill.

And so the story goes. We, and the pelicans, and the bayou, and the whole gulf of Mexico were sold out for a pittance.

Of course, the administration and BP have been lying to us for what, 6 weeks?  about the size of the spill.  First BP said 1000 barrels a day, then they upped it to 5000 barrels.  Now, that they're capturing their all that they can, upwards of 15,000 barrels, with lots more left, they (the Obama administration --Stephen Chu,  I trusted you, what was I thinking?-- are admitting, finally that just perhaps the spill was  an order of magnitude (50,000 barrels) or more, all the way up to 100,000 barrels a day.  Here's a nice non-hysterical chart of how  much oil has probably leaked into the gulf.  It's pretty scary,

BP should spend all of its resources cleaning  this up,  every last penny.  Seeinng as how they made $17 Billion (notice the B) last year, they should be able to do so,

Update--the NYT has an article on newest estimates of the flow rates prior to the riser being cut.   Lede? Estimates double, and this is before the riser cut which has been estimated to add another 20% to the flow. 

djinn talks to the bishop, ahh.... no one.

I have an addiction.   To LDS blogs.  As only pixels get thrown around, no one gets physically hurt, but it just has to  stop.  There are rules, and just like in church, where I failed, I am failing at the simple process of commenting.    On said blogs.   I hereby pledge to not post or read a single LDS blog tomorrow,  hope I can exend  this to Saturday, then Sunday, then.... forever? 

Can I get a witness?  

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Relief wells not as sure a thing as I hoped.

Turns out the rock around the well (yeah, that one leaking in the gulf) has a porosity of 30%.   That's going to make plugging it from the bottom much more difficult.  Oil until October-November.  Assuming they succeed in drilling the relief wells in a reasonable amount of time.