Re: Guest Post - Sifu Tweety

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Would you hire any intelligent asshole to do whatever it is he does professionally?

This originally referred to a commenter here by name (or pseud, I guess).


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-18-10 8:42 AM
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Nobody thinks you're an asshole, Sifu.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 05-18-10 8:55 AM
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1: And now we have to guess?


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 05-18-10 9:06 AM
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As much as I want to have a zero tolerance policy for homophobes, my first reaction is that 1) he sucks but that 2) this is a true emergency and 3) his homophobia (almost certainly) wouldn't affect his work on this. That reaction presupposes, though, that he is uniquely qualified for the work, which he turns out not to be.

Shorter: I'd let a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, kitten-hating firefighter rescue me from a fire, but I'd want him kicked off the force when the present emergency is over.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 05-18-10 9:08 AM
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Shouldn't be that hard to guess. HINT: his opinions on many topics seem pretty similar to Katz's.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-18-10 9:10 AM
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That reaction presupposes, though, that he is uniquely qualified for the work, which he turns out not to be.

Yep. And it seems like the natural reaction, which makes me wonder how seriously this crack team of superscientists business is being taken.

I mean, I can kind of see the justification for sending in a bunch of eminences with a reputation for having left (or in this case far right) field ideas about a wide variety of subjects; if none of the experts are coming up with anything useful, why not bring in a bunch of create non-experts for some lateral thinking? If that's your genuine intention, then Katz (for all his vast apparent toolishness) seems like he might actually be a good choice -- he certainly seems to think things through in developing his idiotic conclusions. But then, if that is your intention, why fire him because he turns out to have weird ideas? Isn't that the point?

I dunno. It's weird and fishy. I wonder what rule Chu (who seems so awesome, generally) and people-other-than-Chu played in this whole melodrama.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-18-10 9:16 AM
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I'm not so sure his views wouldn't affect his work on the oil spill. I mean, this imagery probably squicked him out big time.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 05-18-10 9:19 AM
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I dunno. It's weird and fishy. I wonder what rule Chu (who seems so awesome, generally) and people-other-than-Chu played in this whole melodrama.

What, the wicked-advisors theorem again?


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 05-18-10 9:19 AM
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Why oh why couldn't it have been the expert on hydrogen bombs?

a) Kick him off, there have to be some liberal astrophysicists who need the extra work. I watch the Science channels, and there are tons of the useless suckers making up stuff about "dark matter" and "supermassive black holes"

b) I kicked the bigots out of my family, so I have credibility here. Family is irreplaceable, except by dogs.

c) BP is all about saving the well and saving the oil, and Obama is going along with them. Just in case I haven't trolled enough yet.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 05-18-10 9:19 AM
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6 cont'd: but maybe they fired him because he turns out to be impossible to work with? Or maybe they fired him because his big idea was nuking the Gulf of Mexico, 'cuz fuck animals, that's why?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-18-10 9:20 AM
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I took a course from JIK as an undergrad. He is brilliant but poorly socialized, does not have long-term collaborators.

If this is a team intended to work together and do something, rather than to serve as a "Blue-ribbon panel" that produces vague or useless recommendations which can be cited reverentially and then ignored while business as usual proceeds uninterrupted, I am not sure he's a great choice.

That said, I have no idea how to produce useful recommendations for change after a public and expensive disaster. Asking brilliant oddballs for ideas may work in the right circumstances. This looks like enforcement failure rather than outdated methodology, though-- not enough expensive failsafes are required for drilling, and those that are in place are not taken seriously. There's probably some reason-- here are energy company contributions to the 2010 election cycle , they skew R.

There must be some reason not to turn this into a partisan mudslinging-- Cheney and Ted Stevens killed these adorable sea animals, and stole these hardworking fishermen's livelihoods.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 05-18-10 9:22 AM
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I actually think politics could be relevant to the science here. For example, does the individual have a sense of urgency about the whole disaster?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 05-18-10 9:23 AM
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12: right, and does he really give a shit about preserving the environment while doing it?

But on the other hand, having somebody on the panel who suggested horrifying-but-possibly-workable ideas like nuking the sea floor might inspire the other panelists to work harder to come up with non-insane solutions?

I dunno. It seems like a particularly brainy version of a useless blue-ribbon panel, but then I think about this blue-ribbon panel.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-18-10 9:28 AM
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The whole thing sounds pretty stupid, doesn't it? Only one of the people looks like an engineer with the relevant expertise. What good is an astrophysicist for this, even leaving aside the fact that he's a stupid right-wing contrarian?


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 05-18-10 9:31 AM
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14: on the other hand, the engineers with relevant expertise seem to be totally flummoxed. Maybe they should bring in a psychic?

Also, the right-wing contrarian appears to agree with you about the whole-thing-stupid/no-relevant-expertise thing.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-18-10 9:33 AM
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But yeah, he really does seem notably good at applying his keen scientific mind to subjects outside his area of expertise and coming to wildly, embarrassingly wrong conclusions.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-18-10 9:34 AM
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My gut feeling is along the lines of 14. I don't really get why you wouldn't stick to petroleum engineers and find ones with records of being sticklers for safety.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 05-18-10 9:37 AM
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From one of the linked pieces: I have been a faculty member in Astronomy and Physics departments since 1976, and have never seen any discrimination against women.

This requires a remarkable level of willful blindness. I've seen plenty of discrimination against women in Physics. Mostly subtle, but occasionally quite blatant. That's in the mid 1990s onwards, and I seriously doubt the mid 1970s were any better.

Maybe he's an idiot savant, but if so the best approach is to leave hi in the little nest he's carved out for himself, not bring him out to work on problems that aren't his narrow specialty.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 05-18-10 9:39 AM
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14: You're just jealous they didn't send you! Admit!


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 05-18-10 9:44 AM
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stick to petroleum engineers

Because it would be professional suicide for them to speak publicly. The NASA contractors and engineers who provided Feynman with information were very careful to stay anonymous.

In fact, Feynman's recommendations only stayed in the final report, explicitly labelled as a minority report in an appendix, because he played hardball and because as a Nobelist he had clout. Some wage-slave is not going to be allowed to decide what data gets publicly sent to congress. If a marginal crank refuses to sign the final report, is that because there's a problem with the report or because there's a problem with the crank?

JIK is not an environmentalist-- it's not clear that he believes inedible animals have any value.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 05-18-10 9:46 AM
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Looking at his publication record, he seems like a mediocre scientist at best, even without the evidence from his website that he's stupid. I wonder why he was picked in the first place.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 05-18-10 9:46 AM
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21: Probably somebody's boyfriend.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 05-18-10 9:48 AM
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Because it would be professional suicide for them to speak publicly.

Safety is surely going to be a marketing point at oil companies from here on. "Scientist X who fixed the BP spill is monitering things around here!"

Also, there are plenty of tenured petroleum engineering professors at universities.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 05-18-10 9:49 AM
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inedible animals

TASTE LIKE CHICKEN


Posted by: OPINIONATED SURVIVAL GUY | Link to this comment | 05-18-10 9:51 AM
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|| Not really on-topic, but check out the huevos on this Harvard guy; Rfts got to the part where he submitted work by Stephen "Renaissance Self-Fashioning" Greenblatt, arguably America's most famous living Shakespeare scholar, in his Rhodes Scholarship application and started hyperventilating. |>


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 05-18-10 9:52 AM
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What's funny about this is that Sifu has his own blog.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 05-18-10 9:53 AM
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Maybe all the other crack scientists are gay, and he was disrupting the team.


Posted by: mcmc | Link to this comment | 05-18-10 9:53 AM
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I took a course from JIK as an undergrad. He is brilliant but poorly socialized, does not have long-term collaborators.

To digress a moment--this type of comment is why I love Unfogged. As a poorly connected anarchist in the Midwest, I am extremely impressed by people who have met fancy scientists, various policy wonks, etc etc. Your most trivial anecdote is newsworthy to me!

Carry on.


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 05-18-10 9:54 AM
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Look at how he's cited. He's not Chandrasekhar, but he's had at least two very influential ideas.

23 is funny. Can you find a single instance of a whisteblower in the Energy industry being rewarded? Did safety become a marketing point after the 1979 gulf spill, much bigger than this one? How many single-hulled tankers got replaced after the Exxon Valdez spill?


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 05-18-10 9:55 AM
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Speaking of cheating:

I busted a student for cheating this semester. He sprinted to my office after getting my email and was super upset, and said "I couldn't have cheated! I left questions blank on the final!" I said "Maybe you're just terrible at cheating?" He did the thing where you can't keep yourself from laughing through your tears, and then you awkwardly reign it in and try to look upset again.

Anyway, he was full of shit for a million other reasons. But that keeps making me laugh.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 05-18-10 9:56 AM
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23 is funny. Can you find a single instance of a whisteblower in the Energy industry being rewarded? Did safety become a marketing point after the 1979 gulf spill, much bigger than this one? How many single-hulled tankers got replaced after the Exxon Valdez spill?

I wouldn't really know, would I?

I don't see how stepping up to help with the BP disaster tars you, if you're a safety engineer.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 05-18-10 9:58 AM
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Frowner: dinner turned out delicious. Thanks for the advice!


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 05-18-10 10:00 AM
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Look at how he's cited. He's not Chandrasekhar, but he's had at least two very influential ideas.

A few papers with more than 100 citations in a 40-year career, and those papers are not near the top of a search for their topic on Google Scholar. Solidly mediocre. Don't get me wrong; most scientists are mediocre, and their work can be an important part of the day-to-day functioning of their field. I'll count myself as mediocre if it makes you feel better. All I'm saying is, this thing is being sold as "five amazing superintelligent geniuses brought in to solve intractable problem!", not "five moderately intelligent, fairly normal scientists brought in to solve intractable problem!"


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 05-18-10 10:06 AM
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25: Jeeesus Christ. I've run into a few students with that kind of single-minded pursuit of fake excellence, and they have that same hollowed-out look in the eyes. Why didn't Harvard (a) figure out he was falsifying records, or (b) catch him cheating during his coursework there? (b) especially bothers me, because students who do this do it ALL the time. But yeah, plagiarizing Greenblatt is hilarious.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 05-18-10 10:18 AM
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"five moderately intelligent, fairly normal scientists brought in to solve intractable problem!"

I think this would make a great film. You could call it "The B-Team".


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 05-18-10 10:21 AM
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Your most trivial anecdote is newsworthy to me!

Ha! I'll raise you the Deputy Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, if it cheers you up.


Posted by: OFE | Link to this comment | 05-18-10 10:28 AM
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28
--this type of comment is why I love Unfogged. I am extremely impressed by people who have met fancy scientists, various policy wonks, etc etc. Your most trivial anecdote is newsworthy to me!

I ran into Howard Dean at a Christmas party once. Actually got tongue-tied and couldn't bring myself to say anything, but in my defense, that was partly because I still hadn't decided if I wanted to mention that he had fired my father years before. Somewhat ironically, I've met far more important and powerful people while I was living in a small town in Vermont than now, in DC.

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I don't see how stepping up to help with the BP disaster tars you, if you're a safety engineer.

"Victory has a thousand fathers, defeat is an orphan." Well, the BP disaster is still a defeat, and the only question remaining is how much of one.

For a concrete example, remember Chesley Sullenbeger, the pilot that flight that crashed in the Hudson last year? Much if not most of the credit for no one dying is owed to him. Where is he now? Are airlines cutting corners in safety by ignoring experienced policies like him? Well, his salary was slashed, his pension was basically looted, and politicians' interest in what he has been say barely extends beyond trying to recruit him to run for Congress against the incumbent in his district.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 05-18-10 10:32 AM
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This revelation makes me question the merits of all of Jonathan Katz's somniferous stand-up comedy.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 05-18-10 10:36 AM
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Did those things happen to all pilots or just him?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 05-18-10 10:36 AM
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As I remember it, most airlines have gone into bankruptcy recently, primarily for the purpose of ripping up all their employment contracts so they can collude to pay pillots and other people as little as possible. This might be an unfair characterization.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 05-18-10 10:38 AM
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So you all agree that no petroleum engineer would want to work on the BP spill because they'll be completely unhire-able afterwards? That is completely insane. Even for an insane industry, that's a weird detail.

The petroleum safety engineer that I talked to, at length, is in academics after decades in industry. Get petroleum engineers who have sought refuge in academics, then.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 05-18-10 10:39 AM
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So you all agree that no petroleum engineer would want to work on the BP spill because they'll be completely unhire-able afterwards? That is completely insane.

Wait, what? You said, "I don't see how stepping up to help with the BP disaster tars you," and I suggested one way it would tar you. Reviewing the thread, I see that, yeah, someone did use the phrase "professional suicide" and ex recto that is putting it way too strongly and I guess I should have said so in my comment. But you asked if there was a downside, and to answer that question, yes, I can easily imagine one.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 05-18-10 10:48 AM
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39
Did those things happen to all pilots or just him?

All of them, I think. That wasn't mentioned to say that he was deliberately screwed over; I think he brought it up in response to concerns about whether or not airlines are cutting corners.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 05-18-10 10:50 AM
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25: Jon Chait has the guy's resume, from when he applied for an internship at TNR.


Posted by: Mr. Blandings | Link to this comment | 05-18-10 10:51 AM
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44: Wow. So he claimed to be a co-author of actual forthcoming books by a Harvard professor? That's amazing.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 05-18-10 10:58 AM
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Reviewing the thread, I see that, yeah, someone did use the phrase "professional suicide" and ex recto that is putting it way too strongly and I guess I should have said so in my comment.

Right. I was still arguing that they'd be able to find qualified petroleum safety engineers to staff the team.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 05-18-10 10:59 AM
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Not having followed this story closely as it's too painful, I'll ask you lot: how much oil do they expect to come out of this thing if nothing succeeds?


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 05-18-10 11:17 AM
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Please give your answer in units of smallish states or Valdez's.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 05-18-10 11:19 AM
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47: All of it. Millions of barrels. The hole won't just stop itself up if nothing is done.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 05-18-10 11:19 AM
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44/45: Yeah, it seems less "sleazy keener" than "unwell person in need of help."


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 05-18-10 11:21 AM
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25 is fabulous. He should be admitted to the University of Giant Steel Balls forthwith.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-18-10 11:25 AM
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47, 48: given that estimates of the amount coming out of the well per day vary by a couple of orders of magnitude, it's hard to say. Between 2 and 5000 Valdez Units, maybe?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-18-10 11:26 AM
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work on the BP spill

The issue isn't doing work to fix the spill, it's the policy recommendations afterwards, and the inevitable public statement about why the spill happened that will cost the industry money. BP has released video of the spill only after having their arms twisted. Suggesting anything that will cost the industry real extra money will not play well, for current employees, I think.

My point is that there have been accidents before, in this industry in the gulf of Mexico even. The kinds of recommendations made after cleanup in those cases are facts-- one can hope that suddenly a clean procedure will appear that allows people with good intentions to act on them, but it's unlikely. There is no need to speculate in a vacuum about how this should work-- it only takes a little homework to see how it actually does work. The Challenger panel is actually a pretty clear illustration of how the mechanism that enforces silence and keeps things moving usually works. It literally took a famous genius to make anonymous inside information useful.

The hero-pilot is not a great example, I think-- that crash wasn't due to cutting corners. Look at the ValuJet crash-- the response was to rename the airline so passengers would forget, and that's in an industry with effective safety regulations. The airline did not get prosecuted-- a subcontracted maintenance company did, and the fall guy is a mechanic who went missing.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 05-18-10 11:27 AM
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In re: the "get a petroleum engineer who is in academia" thing, I imagine petroleum engineering chairs get no little chunk of their funding from oil companies.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-18-10 11:28 AM
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1-3 x Valdez after being capped or mostly capped in a few weeks seems realistic.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 05-18-10 11:31 AM
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This seems like a minor thing to worry about, but does this make New Orleans no longer a food city? Will Gulf seafood be inedible for years? I don't know at all, here.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05-18-10 11:34 AM
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This seems like a minor thing to worry about

Fuck you you fucking fuck fuck fuck.


Posted by: OPINIONATED JOHN GOODMAN CHARACTER ON THAT NEW HBO SHOW | Link to this comment | 05-18-10 11:36 AM
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Incidentally, the John Goodman character on that new HBO show is based on a NOLA blogger who really, really hated me (he called me a douche!) and later died of what one suspects was a stress-induced heart attack.

Adds a whole confusing edge to the viewing experience, it does.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-18-10 11:37 AM
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Posted by: | Link to this comment | 05-18-10 11:42 AM
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55: but that's going by the more conservative estimates, isn't it? Wasn't someone being quoted in the NYTimes a few days ago saying 4 Exxon Valdez spills per day? (I hope I'm not misremembering and that wasn't just a hysterical blog comment or something. Can't check easily now, I'm on a bus.) The range of estimates is so big I don't know who to believe.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 05-18-10 11:43 AM
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What I'm remembering does seem implausible. Per week, maybe.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 05-18-10 11:46 AM
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I had heard an estimate of 70,000 barrels per day.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-18-10 11:51 AM
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It will still be a great food city, but I expect that food won't include Gulf seafood for a long, long time. I was just there a couple of weeks ago and spent most of my time trying like mad to eat enough local seafood to tide me over until 2035 or whenever.

Also, it's not minor to the oystermen and shrimpers. Thriving 100-year-old businesses will be shut down essentially overnight.


Posted by: Mr. Blandings | Link to this comment | 05-18-10 11:52 AM
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70k barrels per day, so one Valdez per slightly less than 4 days. I knew the number 4 and the word day were involved somehow.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 05-18-10 11:52 AM
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58: That must be quite an odd experience.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 05-18-10 12:01 PM
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So back of the envelope if 70k barrels per day is correct and the spill lasts for 7 weeks, it would become the largest ever. Doesn't seem out of the range of possibility.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 05-18-10 12:02 PM
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And if the estimate of 50 million barrels in that well is correct, around 200 Valdez Units in total.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 05-18-10 12:06 PM
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The pipe that's been inserted is siphoning 1k tons/day. There'll eventually be video of how much is still coming out.

As a sanity check on numbers, the 1979 spill took months to cap, yielded 500k tons spilled. A full oil drum weighs about 900 pounds, barely movable with a dolly.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 05-18-10 12:07 PM
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64
70k barrels per day, so one Valdez per slightly less than 4 days. I knew the number 4 and the word day were involved somehow.

It began April 20, so that means it is now seven times as big as the Exxon Valdez spill, and still ongoing. And while an ecological disaster is an ecological disaster, of course, the Exxon Valdez spill happened in an inlet off the coast of the least populated state in America. States and countries bordering the Gulf of Mexico are home to millions of people.

Just in case you weren't horrified enough.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 05-18-10 12:07 PM
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I took a course from JIK as an undergrad. He is brilliant but poorly socialized, does not have long-term collaborators.

As soon as Sifu told me about this guy this morning, I said, that's the professor who runs with a backpack! Not out jogging with a camelback. No, this just runs everywhere he goes. Wearing a backpack.

(When were you there, lw?)


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 05-18-10 12:23 PM
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this ˆguyˆ just


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 05-18-10 12:24 PM
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From a WaPo article:

Jindal's response to the crisis has differed from that of the Republican star next door, Gov. Haley Barbour of Mississippi. Barbour has played down the threat and urged tourists not to cancel trips to his state's beach towns.

In an interview with the Associated Press, Barbour compared the spill to the sheen of gasoline from a water-ski boat.

"We don't wash our face in it, but it doesn't stop us from jumping off the boat to ski," he said.

Yeah. This is just like that, Mr. Governor.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 05-18-10 12:25 PM
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84-88


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 05-18-10 12:28 PM
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53: The Feynman role on the Challenger commission tends to be exaggerated. Without him the role of the o-ring would still have come out. The problems with the field joints in cold conditions were known before launch*, and the field joint came under suspicion immediately after the accident (minutes after, not hours). There was no need to dunk a chunk of rubber in ice water or any of that. It makes for a much better narrative to have the iconoclastic super-genius do the big reveal in act III, but the reality is much more prosaic.

*The launch was almost scrubbed for this reason, and the only reason it wasn't was an anomalous data point with high burn-through on a warm day launch that created enough doubt that the engineers weren't willing to risk their careers to scrub the launch.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 05-18-10 12:41 PM
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70k is probably too high, even for this doommeister

Fact one: the people skimming the surface are getting 5k barrels a day, and leaving lots behind

Fact two: the NOAA project that found the plumes say only 20 percent of the oil is reaching the surface

Based on above, I would say 25-50k barrels a day.

Fact 3) what comes out of the pipe is 80 percent natural gas (by volume I think, although at that depth and pressure...), suspended in the water.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 05-18-10 12:43 PM
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It is claimed they are siphoning off 1k barrels a day (which, out of 70k seems barely worth mentioning). If oil is at $75/barrel, how many days will they have to siphon before all eventual fines are paid off?


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 05-18-10 12:44 PM
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the role of the o-ring would still have come out

I have a memory of Dan Rather talking about the o-ring on the day the Challenger blew up, but I guess it's a false one. (Which would be no surprise; reliable recall is not among my talents.) I am pretty sure that I accurately remember him holding up a model of the shuttle and pointing out various things.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 05-18-10 12:45 PM
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One platform engineer I read said instantly:"We have killed the Gulf."

We have almost certainly also killed the Keys and Everglades. A question remains whether it gets into the Gulf Stream and kills the North Atlantic fishing and seal areas.

That's the bad news.

The good news (maybe) is that Dixie will be de-populated! Although you may not want them living in a refugee camp near you.

The bad news is that with only three klan survivalists living there, Alabama would still get two senators.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 05-18-10 12:53 PM
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Tar">http://digbysblog.blogspot.com/2010/05/bad-and-getting-worse-spill-hits.html">Tar Balls Washing Up on Key West via Digby.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 05-18-10 12:59 PM
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Better Link

I don't know, climate wise, what oil in.on the Gulf Stream means. One hurricane expert says that oil will weaken hurricanes in the Gulf, through cooling and viscosity. Cooling and slowing the Gulf Stream could be bad news for the British Isles. Increase or decrease polar melting?

2) All that suspended natural gas in the Gulf could make for a waycool disaster movie, as a hurricane blows through the Gulf, cools the temperature and lowers the ability of the water to hold suspended gas. All the methane gets drawn up into the hurricane, and catches FIRE!

A 150 mile per hour firecane! Woot!


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 05-18-10 1:07 PM
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I'd let a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, kitten-hating firefighter rescue me from a fire, but I'd want him kicked off the force when the present emergency is over.

Seriously? Because the flip side of that coin is people getting fired for stuff like being an atheist or being pro drug legalization.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 05-18-10 1:17 PM
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I just had a flash of insight that explains all and everything re: Bob McManus.

Dogs would do well, and have more freedom, in a post-apocalyptic future.

Think about it.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 05-18-10 1:22 PM
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81: I thought that was kind of extreme too. But, then, I thought, if a firefighter is on the record as a kitten-hater, how will a person be able to trust this firefighter to do his/her best to save your kitten when he/she is stuck high up on a tree?


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 05-18-10 1:22 PM
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81: If they're really just beliefs, no. But if he's acting inappropriately on those beliefs -- harassing people, using opprobrious epithets, fricasseeing kittens, etc., then yes.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 05-18-10 1:30 PM
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Also, it's not minor to the oystermen and shrimpers. Thriving 100-year-old businesses will be shut down essentially overnight.

The west coast salmon fishery has been shut down for the past three years, in no small part because of Cheney overriding the ESA on the Klamath, leading to a huge fish kill. The dude's a fucking Destructor. At some point, you'd think he'd win the special hatred of the fishing industry.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 05-18-10 1:31 PM
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82: I read The Road. Dogs and babies don't fare well at all. Perhaps and in our apocalyptic future, you and bob can be a ragtag duo, keeping your loved ones from getting et.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 05-18-10 1:32 PM
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Well, one could be a kitten-hater without ever fricasseeing kittens, or a homophobe or racist without ever using opprobrious epithets outside the privacy of one's own home. Remember! People have more than one identity!

I seriously doubt that anyone who was racist or homophobic would actually be able to confine that aspect of himself to private life and not let it affect his performance of his job if it involves interacting with anyone at all, though.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 05-18-10 1:32 PM
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82/86: feral dogs seem to do ok in Riddley Walker.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 05-18-10 1:33 PM
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87.2: That was my working assumption, yeah.

Didn't Porky Pig use the phrase "opprobrious epithets"? Or possible Daffy? Google is not my friend on this matter.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 05-18-10 1:36 PM
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90

e y


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 05-18-10 1:37 PM
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91

Don Johnson played bob in the movie


Posted by: tierce de lollardie | Link to this comment | 05-18-10 1:39 PM
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92

58: If it is that stressful hating you I shall nurture only the warmest feelings and live a long life.


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 05-18-10 1:39 PM
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Conversely, one could fricassee kittens without being a kitten hater. The relation of fricasseeing kittens to hating kittens is complex.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 05-18-10 1:39 PM
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I seriously doubt that anyone who was racist or homophobic would actually be able to confine that aspect of himself to private life and not let it affect his performance of his job if it involves interacting with anyone at all, though.

Fire everyone!

I don't care what's written in The Road. I personally feel that feral dogs will do just fine in the post-apocalyptic future. Maybe once all the corpses have been gnawed to pieces things will get a bit rough, but the dogs will have a few good years, and I think Bob is rightly applying a discount rate to their happiness 5-10 (i.e., 35 to 70, in their years) years into the apocalypse.

My own dog likes to chew on metal debris (really) so she will be just fine.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 05-18-10 1:40 PM
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I seriously doubt that anyone who was racist or homophobic would actually be able to confine that aspect of himself to private life and not let it affect his performance of his job if it involves interacting with anyone at all, though.

What? People in the workplace routinely suppress private opinions and views so as to not get fired, sued, or whatever.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 05-18-10 1:41 PM
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The Road was excellent. Blood Meridian might be the most gory book I have ever read.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 05-18-10 1:41 PM
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93: In fact, I've always rather liked chickens, and fricasseed one just this Saturday. (A dish I am unable, due to being poorly brought up, to refer to as anything other than frickin' chickassee).


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05-18-10 1:42 PM
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92: well, he really, really hated a lot of people (and governments, and institutions). With good reason, mostly.

So I guess what I'm saying is that you should go ahead and hate me if you wan... huh. Something got turned around in there someplace.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-18-10 1:42 PM
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86 but highly OT: did anyone else find The Road so self-indulgent and over the top as to be hilarious? I would be sitting there on the subway reading it and giggling, and then I'd think how I must look and it would make it even funnier.


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 05-18-10 1:42 PM
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We did, Smearcase! Why didn't you come over and talk about it with us? Guess you are too shy.


Posted by: OPINIONATED SEVEN YEAR OLDS | Link to this comment | 05-18-10 1:44 PM
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101

KOBEPOCALYPSE


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-18-10 1:44 PM
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102

||
Mrs. Kobe!
|>


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 05-18-10 1:44 PM
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103

Shoot.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-18-10 1:45 PM
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99: It didn't actually strike me funny, but short of the actual giggling, yeah. I was reading it going "Okay, there's no plants? What are they breathing?"


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05-18-10 1:47 PM
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Feral dogs are doing just fine right now, and if H sapiens was reduced to a remnant, they'd carry on doing just fine, although there's be a huge die off and only the core populations would pull through. Dogs are bright; they adapt. Yorkies and miniature poodles would be toast, but so what?

Cats would, according to a thing I read, do better than dogs in more wooded areas, at least at first.


Posted by: OFE | Link to this comment | 05-18-10 1:47 PM
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106

Speaking of firing people....


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 05-18-10 1:48 PM
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Dogs seems to do fine on the pavement right outside the front door to my building, every other day. I blame Harlan Ellison.


Posted by: tierce de lollardie | Link to this comment | 05-18-10 1:53 PM
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frickin' chickassee

Now I want to cook this just so I can use that phrase. My culinary ambitions are entirely driven by non-gustatory concerns. Mostly the user interface, but also the potential for humor. Spotted Dick is a particular favorite for this reason.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 05-18-10 1:53 PM
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You like to call it "dotted spic", togolosh? That's really racist.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 05-18-10 1:59 PM
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108: Way easy. Flour your chicken and brown it a little in a pan. Saute your basic onion/celery/carrots diced in the bottom of a pot. Put the chicken on top, cover in water or good broth if you have it, bring it to a boil and just barely simmer for an hour and a half or so. Fish the chicken out, and boil the gravy way down, until it's thickish. Serve with these.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05-18-10 1:59 PM
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106: I somehow missed this in February. How did the decision to terminate the entire teaching staff in retaliation for the union's refusal to make concessions in bargaining not constitute an unfair labor practice?


Posted by: jms | Link to this comment | 05-18-10 2:02 PM
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111: Undetermined -- there was a lawsuit pending over it that's getting dropped as a result of this agreement.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05-18-10 2:06 PM
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111: It was a NCLB thing. IIRC, most of you all went all scabby on that, on account of the children and all.


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 05-18-10 2:07 PM
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111: RTFA!


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 05-18-10 2:07 PM
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114: Oh now I remember. I did read that. I voted for Obama, and I still kinda support him and all, but christ, what an asshole.


Posted by: jms | Link to this comment | 05-18-10 2:11 PM
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109 makes me like it even more.
110: Problem is, I don't like chicken. I presume one can substitute a similar meat, like snake or alligator. Frigator alligasee lacks a certain something, though. I guess I'll have to try it with chicken.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 05-18-10 2:17 PM
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116.2: I still have at least two bullfrogs. You're welcome to them.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 05-18-10 2:42 PM
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I started reading the other night. I only managed a few pages because I was far too distracted by McCarthy's lack of actual sentences. The odd incomplete phrase is fine, but this is every other line! I kept reading bits out to C and then got bored.


Posted by: asilon | Link to this comment | 05-18-10 2:53 PM
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reading The Road


Posted by: asilon | Link to this comment | 05-18-10 2:53 PM
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talking about it


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-18-10 2:55 PM
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The Road. Out here. Us.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-18-10 2:56 PM
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116: Rabbit.


Posted by: Mr. Blandings | Link to this comment | 05-18-10 2:59 PM
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Pet the rabbit, George, pet the rabbit.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 05-18-10 3:26 PM
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Now I'm sad because I'm thinking about Of Mice and Men.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 05-18-10 3:31 PM
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Blandings said, "You hadda, Kraab. I swear you hadda. Come on with me."


Posted by: bill | Link to this comment | 05-18-10 3:46 PM
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Posted by: | Link to this comment | 05-18-10 3:55 PM
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106: Oh good, I'm glad to see someone linked that. I tried to send the article to Heebie this morning, but the e-mail bounced back.

CENTRAL FALLS, R.I. --All the staff members of Central Falls High School, who were fired in February as part of a turnaround plan for the chronically underperforming school, will be able to keep their jobs under an agreement ratified Monday.
The accord...calls for a longer school day, more in-depth teacher evaluations and mandatory after-school tutoring for each student. [...]
"It has been extraordinarily fruitful because we gained an understanding and what it takes to make that reform," Dr. Gallo said. "This is going to be real, and it's going to be hard. This isn't like, Oh boy, here's the cake and we're just going to sit down and enjoy eating it all."
[...]Teachers will receive $30 an hour for a mandatory 90 minutes of after-school planning time and a $3,000 stipend for the longer school day, which will be paid with a federal grant, Dr. Gallo said.

In other words:
- Everyone is still employed
- It took 4+ months to conduct "48 hours" of negotiations
- A one-time solution is being used to cover probably-permanent increases in labor costs

It is still unclear to me how the proposed activities will help students achieve the stated outcomes.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 05-18-10 4:05 PM
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One more just discovered Buffy. My kid has consumed like 3.5 seasons in two weekends plus a couple of weeknights. I thought it was the commercials that made TV detrimental, now I'm not so sure. But it's a fun show, and I had the same reaction as everyone else, where are the cell phones? I had one in 1998, very useful in changing cities. I think I still had itemized billing in 2005....


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 05-18-10 4:11 PM
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I tried to send the article to Heebie this morning, but the e-mail bounced back.

To my gmail address? Or to my confusing Unfogged address which I can never remember how the hyphen is dealt with and what's capitalized?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 05-18-10 4:20 PM
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The latter.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 05-18-10 4:21 PM
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128: My 7 year old has plowed through season one, and is now demanding season 2. Watching it will probably mean having a conversation with her about sex, which we've been putting off.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 05-18-10 4:35 PM
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I would avoid mentioning Vietnamese whores or reattached penises at upright angles.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 05-18-10 4:45 PM
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Dave Neiwert at Crooks and Liars about using an explosion (not necessarily nuclear) to seal the BP well. Read the comments for details, some experts show up.

Obama could have commanded this in the first week. Any damage after that is his fault, for being a whore for corporations and Big Oil. History will condemn Obama, possibly as it's greatest monster.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 05-18-10 5:09 PM
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78: I don't think the Everglades work like you think they do. Megan?


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 05-18-10 5:10 PM
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Sorry - Megan. Queen of the Rains. I will flay myself slowly.


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 05-18-10 5:12 PM
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History is greatest monster.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-18-10 5:24 PM
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Are you asking me, Alex? I don't know much about the Everglades at all. They have pythons there now, I believe. But I'm afraid that I can't weigh in on whether the oil spill will mark the end of them.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 05-18-10 5:35 PM
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History will condemn Obama, possibly as it's greatest monster.

Don't worry, we've all been convinced of that already.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 05-18-10 5:43 PM
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Here are New Videos of the leak from FDL. Their point was the BP straw to siphon off some oil, but the white fricking clouds of methane are what stand out to me.

Mow of course I don't know the science of saturating seawater with methane, but I am trying to find out. I can see the oil and dispersants being the long term disaster, but I am afraid of that methane. For one thing there is five times as much methane, the field is estimated at 9.375 trillion (? gallons, barrels, tons does it really matter?) of Natural gas.

Because I don't know that the saturation will reach a tipping point and a bubble will form, be released, caught by prevailing winds, and move very quickly to blanket Houston, NOLA, Tampa.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 05-18-10 7:19 PM
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FARTPOCALYPSE: TAMPA


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-18-10 7:23 PM
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It's nice to know that even when faced with a disaster of epic proportions, bob will imagine that it's far worse than reality.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 05-18-10 7:32 PM
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127: Oh my god, you guys have no idea what a clusterfuck the whole Central Falls thing has been. and how disappointing this ending is.


Posted by: emdash | Link to this comment | 05-18-10 8:12 PM
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142: OK, so say more.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 05-18-10 10:12 PM
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144

That Harvard guy should have forged a recommendation from this guy.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 05-18-10 11:25 PM
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143: The inside dope that I've heard goes like this: Central Falls high school is failing, the superintendent offers the union a deal to turn the school around, saying that if they don't take it, she'll have to fire all the teachers. The teachers call her bluff, demanding a better deal, and so she fires them. At this point, all of the *other* teachers unions in the state privately think the CFTU is completely insane for not taking the deal, but won't say so publicly. For months the state commissioner of education and the U.S. Secretary of Education, and the President of the freaking United States publicly support Supt. Gallo. Then, after a few mediation sessions and a few shady meetings in which lawyers for the union and the state Dept of Ed meet without the lawyer for the district present, and after the people who publicly supported Gallo are putting incredible pressure on her behind the scenes to just make a deal, any deal, with the union to get the story out of the news, she cuts a deal to hire all 97 teachers back. The teachers have finally graciously agreed to eat lunch with their students once a week. (Suspicion here in RI is that the commissioner is trying to cut a deal to get the unions to finally sign on to the state's Race to the Top application and get a funding formula passed.)

How in the world the superintendent going to find a new principal who wants to inherit a failing school with a surly, malcontent workforce whose competence is demonstrably questioned and who have signed a new contract allowing them to grieve any request from the administration apart from the few concessions they made to Gallo, in a town that's just declared bankruptcy, is hard to imagine. I do not envy her at all.


Posted by: emdash | Link to this comment | 05-19-10 6:43 AM
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I should say, "The inside dope that I feel least uncomfortable about sharing on the internet..."


Posted by: emdash | Link to this comment | 05-19-10 6:47 AM
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who have signed a new contract allowing them to grieve any request from the administration apart from the few concessions they made to Gallo

Is there any difference between this sentence and "have signed a new contract"? That's what a contract is -- it describes what you're required to do for your salary, and says that your boss can't arbitrarily require you to do other stuff.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05-19-10 6:48 AM
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Oh, sorry, one of the things the district wanted as part of the turnaround was non-grievability. Standard or not, it makes it hard to make change.


Posted by: emdash | Link to this comment | 05-19-10 10:21 AM
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145 certainly sounds like a miserable outcome. The only consolation (?) is that AFAICT it's not actually any better in other contexts. In PA, where we did get teachers' union signoff on our Race to the Top application, Philadelphia is going full steam ahead with a new hack* for privatizing public education, complete with internally self-contradicting Big New Plans that are moving targets.

First it's about giving extra resources to failing schools (although it's not clear that lack of resources is the problem), then it's about more charters, then it's about newly reconfigured public schools that look a lot like charters, then it's about playing musical chairs with existing staff to "reenvision" those schools, then it's about a big new budget (that they are going to the board with, despite the governor not having gotten the legislature's approval for the state funding piece of it -- and remember, last year we had a 102-day legislative standoff over the budget).

If you ignore all the rhetoric, as far as I can tell, what is actually happening is:

1. More public schools are being given permission to hire cheaper labor and exclude more students (eg by making the hoops for admission sufficiently complicated that parents of special ed, immigrant, or homeless students are often unable to navigate them)

2. Despite this, the actual cost of running the schools is going up.

3. Consultants are receiving large contracts with little to no definition to their scope of activities, and district auditors are implicitly admitting that they don't monitor spending.

4. Charter school operators are receiving minimal oversight and compliance checks even for basic issues such as criminal background clearance, clear title to property, etc.

5. No empirical evidence exists to suggest that students are physically safer, emotionally more nurtured, or academically better served by any of these changes.

*"Hack" in the techie sense of impromptu workaround.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 05-19-10 8:01 PM
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