Tuesday, May 25, 2010

On Languid Indifference (Now With Update! And More!)

This is a day to return to our friends at Despair.com -- "Increasing Success by Lowering Expectations" -- for some Demotivators™

Back to the Oil Gusher in the Gulf, it seems. Since the weekend, there's been a somewhat hysterical sideshow, especially among the doombloggers, but not exclusively so, on the "Explosions" which have "collapsed" and/or "opened up" the geological formation in which BP's Devil Riser was placed. The hypothesis seems to be that the pressure of the escaping oil and gas has ruptured the rock all around the well, collapsed it in some places, and there are now several new oil spouts, injecting many more millions of barrels into the Gulf than previously.

Oh and BP is running their LiveCam on a loop. The same eel keeps showing up again and again, and the same little fishy. Over and over. Monkeyfister (whom I recall from quite a few years ago at the Bartcop forum as a very intense young man determined to bloody the Busheviks and their running dogs) and others witnessed the Event and live blogged it, though their conclusions about what happened vary widely.

If you do Windows Media Player, this link goes to a live feed. Well. They say it's live. Who knows. The view currently available on my screen shows a plume of oil and some piping and gizmos down at the bottom of what looks like a pretty deep large-diameter, rough-sided hole. The camera position may be on the rim, I don't know. At any rate, it doesn't look like the views that have been widely distributed in the past. The plume is coming from what appears to be a very narrow orifice at the bottom. It spreads wide quickly, as all of the oil plumes we've seen to date do.

As we know, the oil has come ashore on a 150 mile arc along the Gulf Coast of Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama, and it has contaminated beaches, marshes and brown pelican nesting areas. Clean up has been, shall we say, spotty.

Last night there was a revolting report on the NewsHour from Jefferson Parish, Louisiana, where oil has been coming ashore for days, and nothing whatever is being done about it by BP or the Federal Government. The Parish Homeland Security Rep points out that numerous local people were trained by BP to serve as workers to handle the spill, but BP never hired anybody to do it. All kinds of control and containment equipment is stored in the Parish, but none of it has been touched as it belongs to BP and there are no BP personnel anywhere near. Frantic calls to BP and the various Federal officials in charge of oversight aren't picked up or returned, and the locals have pretty much decided that both BP and the Feds are worthless and so they are taking matters into their own hands.

Following that report, Coast Guard Admiral In Charge Thad Allen was semi-grilled about the difficulties people onshore were facing, and he acknowledged that everybody involved had to do a better job, no doubt about that, and command and communications had to get better and they were working on it just as hard as they could.

What about Jefferson Parish?

"Working just as hard as we can to stand up better command and communications."

You just want to go Medieval on these people's asses. WTF?!

Thad Allen had a Long Talk with BP over the weekend, and he's sure that things will come together and get better within a short time.

What about Jefferson Parish?

BP has deployed tens of thousands of workers and scientists, the best in the world, to handle the consequences of the spill. And we're all working just as hard as we can to stand up better command and communications.


Everyone is working as hard as they can.

And so it goes.

Much blather masks utterly languid indifference.

A topic I have raised on this blog numerous times with regard to the Washington view of the ongoing unemployment calamity. They couldn't be more indifferent to the crushing plight of the long-term unemployed, despite their recent blather of "concern." They simply don't do anything about it.

Much as we see happening in the Gulf.

Long ago, I decided that Our Rulers' indifference to unemployment was Policy in Action; the point being that maintaining high unemployment figures over an extended period has the "positive" effect of lowering wages and benefits for all workers, which in turn bulks up bottom lines for employers, financiers, and investors. Win-win, in other words, for the Masters of the Universe, not so much for the rest of us, and it is devastating for the overall economy. High unemployment over extended periods forces more and more people into penury and poverty, and cuts in income that ripple through the land reduce the ability of consumers to... well, consume. Which in turn puts the Real Economy (as opposed to the Digital Bytes Finance Economy) into reverse. Keep it up long enough -- and this has been going on for years now -- and there is no returning to "prosperity" for the masses. Which seems to be the intent of the Policy.

The same sort of Indifference, combined with more and more meaningless blather, seems to be going on with regard to the Gulf Gusher, but what in Hell is the Policy?

So far as can be determined, BP is in complete control of the situation, and they are doing whatever will accrue to their corporate benefit. And for whatever reason, have done nothing at all, NOTHING, to stop the flow of oil into the Gulf. NOTHING. Instead, they have done everything they can think of to capture as much of the oil as they can, apparently for distribution and sale. They have made much show of Environmental Concern, yadda yadda, but when push comes to shove, they do nothing. Cf, the story in Jefferson Parish above. Talk about Potemkin Environmentalism. Well, there you are.

They talk extensively about this, that, or the other thing they might-could do to stop the flow of oil, but they don't do it. And they and their flacks keep saying "No one wants to stop this oil flow more than BP, no one!" but there's no evidence of it.

It's all just blather, while the Gulf fills up with oil and scientific studies are conducted on the "effects" all this oil is having on the Environment.

Science! YAY!

This utter indifference to the People (and plants and animals) affected by the constant streams of oil into the Gulf (except in the abstract, as scientific research) is in some ways worse than Chernobyl. At least the Soviet authorities were actually doing something (as tragically misguided as some of it was) to control and contain the contamination and they kept at it until they had done everything they could.

With this Gulf Thing, the Authority is the Corporation, and the Corporation's interest is in recovering as much of the gushing oil as they can for distribution and sale. Nothing matters to them so much as that. And it is obvious from their behavior to date that they will be focused on that objective until the end of the crisis. For its part, the Government refuses to intervene.

Instead, there is blather. Endless blather, and more blather. No action at all.

Though I think it is despicable, at least the Company's motivations are understandable. But what are the Policy motivations for letting them have their way? This is uncharted territory, and I can't tell what Policy matters are being formulated and implemented, except to ignore the public interest to every extent possible.

But to what object?


UPDATE begun at 4:05pm 05/25/2010

I dunno. Maybe the hysteria is justified. I just checked the live feed from the link above, and the plume has massively, grossly, hideously changed. The view is the same; but the plume when I first saw it just now was much larger, brown instead of black, and seemed to be spewing from a much wider orifice next to the equipment. Then all of a sudden, all hell broke loose, an explosion of some sort, and it looked like a rent in the seafloor opened, spewing massive amounts of brown gunk through a long channel into the ocean. The camera position changed somewhat, apparently trying to take in what had happened, but the plume of engulfed it in a brown haze, looked a lot like smoke from a forest fire.


It's hard for me to stay connected to the feed for more than about 30 seconds at a time, but from what I can tell, the camera is surrounded by floating debris and the scene is essentially nothing more than this debris scattering around in a cloud of brown haze. I don't see the plume at all. The debris is moving chaotically and there is quite a bit of it.

The scene has cleared slightly. There appears to be a black plume behind the equipment and a much larger brown plume in front of it. These plumes appear to be issuing from different orifi, but it's impossible to tell for sure. Now it appears to be all one plume, huge, a blowout of a blowout maybe. The camera hasn't moved.

Now the feed has gone dead. I can't reconnect. It's 4:24pm PDT, 05/25/2010

Was just able to reconnect (4:27pm). It's a different view now. There is an elaborate piece of brassy equipment on the end of the arms of a remote operated vehicle. There is a relative small black plume behind this equipment. It looks like an earlier view that was live yesterday. The title of the view is "Deepwater Response", so this is not the view of whatever just blew out. There was a time and date stamp on the prior view, and it was today's date and time. There is no time/date stamp on the current view.

Something happened.

That's for double damned sure.

Something happened. And they cut the feed. There's no two ways about it. As for what we're seeing now? I bet it was live yesterday and it's being replayed now.

I will now don a tinfoil hat.



The same sort of explosive event has been going on at the location of the current live view, assuming it is live. According to Monkeyfister, the device in the scene is used to control dispersant. According to posters over at the Oil Drum -- who have been watching the explosive events today (apparently there have been a number of them) -- what's going on are tests of the blowout preventer to determine whether it can withstand the "Top Kill" operation which has been repeatedly postponed. They are injecting mud to see what happens, and the explosive release of brown stuff is the mud being vomited back up.

Oddly, it seems perfectly rational. Of course whether it is true or not, who knows? If they hadn't a gone off lying about pretty much everything...


  1. This is just speculation, but when it comes to things like this, I've found that the old maxim "follow the money" is usually fairly apt.

    BP is one of the few Western oil companies with rights to Iraqi oil fields. Production is supposed to ramp up this year and Iraq isn't yet subject to OPEC quotas. In fact, the Rumaila field is expected to produce 2.85 million Barrels per day and earn BP $2 billion per year. If BP and the US govt have an "arrangement" in which troops protect BP's fields in return for the US getting first crack at cheap oil (particularly if this happens before the elections in November), then that might explain why the govt is so lenient with BP right now - aside from angry statements that have no practical effect whatsoever.

    Again, this is just speculation. Still, if there's one thing we've learned in the last few years, it's that money talks.

    Exxon and Shell are the other biggies. Source:




  2. Hey wench,

    Interesting speculation. What gets to me is that so many Americans can see/sense that what's going on just ain't right -- doesn't smell right, doesn't look right, doesn't feel right -- it is so far out of whack.

    All this verbiage, and essentially no action to stop the gusher. And so many lies, obvious ones.

    Makes you go "hmmm."

    I don't know about the "cheap oil" gambit, though. The price of oil has been going down since the blowout, which doesn't scan. Any time somebody drops a wrench at a refinery, the price of gas goes up. If a refinery blows up, as one did in Texas on May 5, the price of gas goes way up and the price of oil goes up, too. With a major well blowout polluting a whole region, you would think that this catastrophe would be forcing oil prices into the stratosphere, but they're going down instead.

    Something's fishy. No doubt some Future Planning is involved. And that no doubt includes BP's shenanigans in Iraq.

    Thanks for cluing me into that side of things...

    What a tangled web.

  3. Che,

    From what I understand, the price of oil is largely dependent on the market as well as what we have for reserves. I recall reading that our reserves are almost topped out full right now (I don't remember why) and I do know that oil prices dipped a bit when Goldman Sachs was first being investigated by the SEC. Why? Because Goldman is one of the largest speculators for energy futures on the market. Their stock dips, the energy market dips, and the price of oil drops. Similarly, the market sucks right now what with the implosion of Europe and BP's little incident - investors have no confidence in the market so the price of futures goes down.

    Lovely to think that the dons on Wall Street control our energy prices (and therefore our policy), isn't it?

    One wonders if the SEC investigation was deliberately timed to drive down the market (and hence, the price of oil) for Obama's announcement to open up our shores. I think that all most people will see is that Obama announced that we'll be offshore drilling everywhere and then presto! oil prices drop. If so, it was well done considering that OPEC has been raising prices to us for the last two months.

    I'll bet that spill really pissed off a lot of people in the administration. It called unwanted attention to the fact that Obama opened up ALL offshore drilling to leases, with no buffer zones.

    This is my layman's understanding of it anyway. I've been spending a bit of time on sites like Arabianbusiness.com - I think it's going to be useful in terms of predicting where alliances are going to be drawn because frankly, I think that a massive war is going to hit by the end of the year (I'm betting that Iran and Israel go at it and then we, of course, go to bat for Israel). However, Russia, Iran, and Venezuela have been making energy and materiel deals and helping each other out a lot lately so hopefully the threat of Russia allying with Iran will dissuade the warmongers (one can hope, right?).

    I'm terrified that it's going to be nuclear if it happens though - Iran's major population centers are in the north and their massive oil and natural gas fields are in the south. What's to keep us or Israel from turning Tehran into a sheet of glass? We don't have the troops to fight another ground war.

    No, things definitely aren't right and people realize it. Unfortunately, I think that they either don't care or don't feel that they can change anything. It has become normal for corporations to screw us without consequences (Enron, Halliburton, Blackwater, etc) so why get excited about it happening again? Either that, or they're vested in the oil business - I live in Houston and a LOT of people work for the oil companies here. No one wants to lose their jobs and the attitude is very much "yeah, it's terrible and BP is giving a bad name to the rest of us".

    I don't know how to combat an attitude like that - it's like watching a battered woman expect to get smacked around because it's "just the way things are". How does one get people to realize that it doesn't have to be this way?


  4. "The dons of Wall Street" indeed.

    I say guillotines are in order, metaphorically, of course. Certainly.

    As for people not caring, it's looking more and more like a tipping point is getting closer. It's not at the point of thermonuclear rage yet primarily because the pictures of the deadly damage in the Gulf are still fairly rare. But because they did not stop the oil from reaching the shore, there are going to be more and more pictures of the horrific results of this catastrophe. And that's gonna make a lot more people mad than just the folks living on the Gulf and hysterical bloggers.

    And what'll happen when people really get wound up about this (and everything), I don't know.

    Arizona is seceding as we speak. If they continue to get away with it, you can bet Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama will give it a shot too. Florida too? Sure, why not?

    They'll call it something like "Autonomy" rather than "Secession" of course.