Links 6/22/10

Your blogger has a baaaaad cold! Posts may be thin the next few days.

Monsanto GM seed ban is overturned by US Supreme Court BBC. Just about every Supreme Court decision these days is an advertisement for becoming an expat.

A Bruise on the First Amendment New York Times

40,000 deaths a year due to junk food, says health watchdog Nice Telegraph

EU sees solar power imported from Sahara in 5 years Reuters

Life in the Gas Lane: Living with Drilling, Part II-c Corrente

A Colossal Fracking Mess Vanity Fair (hat tip reader Crocodile Chuck). You need to read this. This process uses a lot of water and worse, contaminates aquifers….and fresh water is the MOST scarce resource globally. We are due to run out of it before all others. This is monstrously short-sighted.

That’s all, spokes: Colorado town of Black Hawk bans cyclists Guardian (hat tip reader John D)

Human race ‘will be extinct within 100 years’, claims leading scientist Daily Mail (hat tip reader Toby). Yes, it’s the Daily Mail…but the flip side is humans underestimate tail risk.

Are We Going Down Like the Soviets? Tom Englehardt (ht tip reader Gonzalo Lira)

Merchants Win Debit-Card Fee Battle Wall Street Journal

Freight fright *alert* FT Alphaville

As Law Takes Effect, Obama Gives Insurers a Warning New York Times

A Health Insurer Pays More to Save New York Times

Chinese Yuan Spencer, Angry Bear. Note that contrary to hyperventilating in the media, China announced its peg v. dollar Monday at same level as the Friday before its announcement. The currency movement during day (touted hysterically at Bloomberg) was within permitted band (the move was .42%, when the maximum allowed in a day is .5%, and the announcement stated that the bands would not be widened). China may be playing games. It did move the reference rate up by almost exactly amount of the market increase yesterday, but the market rate today is lower. And while the PBoC isn’t intervening today, this reversal is looking orchestrated nevertheless (China state-owned banks buying dollars heavily: traders Reuters) While even this tiny move is more than I anticipated, I’m still not convinced that what so far is a rise so small as to be cosmetic will get any follow through after the G20 meetings.

Rising China Wages Prompt Nissan, Foxconn to Boost Automation Bloomberg

SP Futures and Gold Daily Charts at 2:30 EDT: Smoke and Mirrors Jesse

Stress tests results likely to be broadened Eurointelligence

Meredith Whitney Comments on Housing Double Dip Ed Harrison

Old Wall Street Discusses the New Floyd Norris, New York Times (hat tip reader Steve S)

Profit-Margin Outlook for U.S. Is ‘Extremely Bad’: Chart of Day Bloomberg

Antidote du jour:

Picture 65

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  1. rjs

    yves, dont you understand we need that gas to make fertilizer to grow the corn for subsided ethanol?

    meanwhile, were depleting the ogallala aquifer while the runoff goes down the mississippi to create an annual dead zone thats been there years before the spill…

    wonder if anyone in europe did a study of the energy costs involved in manufacturing & installing the components for the sahara solar array and laying the transmission cable under the mediterranean…

  2. dearieme

    Who would pay for a solar array in the Sahara when it would be stolen (= nationalised) as soon as it was profitable?

    1. Francois T

      They wouldn’t go through the turmoil of doing that if the contracts are fair.

      This is what happened with their oil company ARAMCO. Contracts were so ridiculously tilted against them, they got mad. (Who wouldn’t?) Now, ARAMCO is the biggest in the world.

      And guess what? They’re among the most technologically advanced operators in the world, as per Glen Stehle.

  3. alderbaron

    Hearing that the human race may become extinct in about 100 years sounds outrageous to people who are not scientists.

    Yet, many very respectable scientists who study such things give us about 100-300 years. It’s hardly a minority viewpoint.

    1. NOTaREALmerican

      The problem with intellectuals (scientists being a sub-class) is they tend to all hang-out together and arrive at hopelessly bogus conclusions based the faulty assumption that the entire world lives in bucolic limousine-liberal college towns.

      The scientists might be extinct in 100 years, but I can guarantee the smart amoral scumbags won’t be.

      1. alderbaron

        Also, I’m not sure whether “bucolic” is the proper term for the North and South poles, but sure, whatever.

  4. gigi

    The geezers in the supreme court do not seem to understand the risks presented by genetically meddled (modified implies an understanding we do not have) crops. Sooner or later some of these genes will show up in “unexpected” places with “unexpected” results and we will get yet another round of “Nobody could have foreseen this” BS.

    How did we become a society where “We did not foresee…” is a defense? If I drive my car without brakes and crash into someone, am I not at fault??

    We need a new planet….

    1. alderbaron

      Well, on the bright side, if this causes human extinction (no one can be sure it won’t), there won’t be anyone around to say “how could we have known?”

      1. LeeAnne

        Treaties can be signed and Congress pass laws that enforce corporate liability for unforseeable harms of all commercial products.

    2. NOTaREALmerican

      Isn’t what we call history just various smart amoral scumbag manipulating dumbasses – who lack the ability to see beyond the next few TV commercials – into destructive activities?

      Different clowns, same circus – for the last 10000 years.

        1. aet

          More people are better off today than heas ever been the case in history. The future looks very bright.
          Stop whining, and enjoy life.

    1. NOTaREALmerican

      Oddly enough tho, last time I checked, Russia was still there.

      So is Rome, and the pope, and Tuscany. The trick is to make sure you survive “the collapse”.

  5. alex

    re: A Colossal Fracking Mess

    We really need to find an environmentally friendly way to do fracking and exploit unconventional (shale) gas deposits.

    As usual we’ll have two camps, the “no fracking ever” and the “fracking no matter what” camps, with the former claiming that fracking should be avoided completely and the latter that there’s no serious problem and/or water be damned we need the energy. While if forced into a choice between not contaminating aquifers and getting the gas, the former is a better choice, there may well be a way to have our cake and eat it too. It does require some serious regulation and research though.

    Unconventional gas deposits are enormous – far larger than conventional deposits. North America has the largest deposits of any continent. I’m sure the “260 years worth” is an exaggeration, but there’s still a lot of it. You can use CNG in vehicles as well as for heating and electricity generation.

    Generating a BTU via gas produces 44% less CO2 than coal and 28% less than oil. Unlike coal, natural gas generated electricity can be used in combined cycle plants, which are up to 50% more efficient and so reduce CO2 by another third. And if carbon sequestration is practical for anything it’s practical for gas – for coal it’s a pipe dream.

    The problem is that the drillers consider their fracking fluid mixes to be proprietary and will do anthing to avoid saying what’s in them. That’s ridiculous. You shouldn’t be able to pump crap into the ground without at the very least revealing what it is. The EPA and state agencies don’t even know what contaminating compounds to monitor for. I’m ok with some sort of “intellectual property” protection for their magic mixes, but we need to find what the most environmentally friendly mixes are. Maybe new ones need to be developed. I don’t give a damn if some government money gets spent on that, but we need something.

    1. parameter

      “I don’t give a damn if some government money gets spent on that”

      Well that’s very generous and broad-minded of you!

      1. alex

        And what are the alternatives? Pollute the water or don’t use a low carbon domestic energy source? The amount of government money that gets spent on this would be chump change compared to the bank bailouts, the amount we spend on the military “defending” the world’s oil supplies, or even random tax break X for senator deep pocket’s favorite campaign contributor.

        Is it something new for the government to spend money helping to develop technology that, while broadly beneficial, particularly benefits some industries? Ever hear of the Internet, courtesy of DARPA, or computer chips courtesy of NASA and the military? Do you have any idea what the NIST does or how NSF money is spent? Your attitude is penny wise and pound foolish.

        1. rjs

          frack water for the bakken shale in north dakota has to be trucked in from the missouri river:

          (…/Bakken_ Water_Optimization_Study_-_ John_Harju.pdf).

    2. PA_Lady

      We aren’t going to stop drilling (at least not in PA) so we do need to find a middle ground — drilling, but done responsibly. The key to that is forcing companies to practice responsible drilling techniques, and the only way to do that is to make the punishment painful to their bottom line.

      When spilling 100-200 gallons of hydrochloric acid at two well sites and along a 2.5 mile stretch of road (which happened in my county) costs a company more than $3500 in fines and a two-paragraph bit of bad publicity in the local paper over a “minor” spill, then — and only then — will poisoning the land, the water, and the people become more than “the cost of doing business.”

  6. LeeAnne

    Monsanto GM seed ban is overturned by US Supreme Court

    Agreed, but with these multinationals, where would you go? This morning Iceland sounds good to go; from the Guardian here

    “WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange breaks cover but will avoid America”

    “…The film was edited and produced in Iceland where Assange spends a lot of his time and which last week prepared the most radical and liberal freedom of information legislation anywhere in the world.”

    –good lesson in how a real free markets work.

    Looks like Iceland has a good plan –a potential mecca for investigative journalism and IT security. Someone somewhere had to provide an escape valve for the oppressor America has become.

    Americans, particularly those in charge, need this lesson in the meaning of basic principles; that FREEDOM, for instance isn’t just another corporate/military slogan.

    1. NOTaREALmerican

      Re: that FREEDOM, for instance isn’t just another corporate/military slogan.

      I thought it was a slogan used to manipulate American peasants.

      Freedom, eagles (in slow motion), flags (slow motion as the background for the eagles), peasant looking skyward (tears nearly flowing). The dumbasses always need a story. “Freedom” is the perfect story as it creates its own bullshit.

  7. LeeAnne

    Monsanto GM seed ban is overturned by US Supreme Court

    Agreed, but with these multinationals, where would you go? This morning Iceland sounds good to go; from the Guardian here

    “WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange breaks cover but will avoid America”

    “…The film was edited and produced in Iceland where Assange spends a lot of his time and which last week prepared the most radical and liberal freedom of information legislation anywhere in the world.”

    –good lesson in how a real free markets work.

    Looks like Iceland has a good plan –a potential mecca for investigative journalism and IT security. Someone somewhere had to provide an escape valve for the oppressor America has become.

    Americans, particularly those in charge, need this lesson in the meaning of basic principles; that FREEDOM, for instance isn’t just another corporate/military slogan.

  8. Conor

    How does one spell evil? M-O-N-S-A-N-T-O!!!

    Become an expatriate? NEVER!!!

    You can’t fight the good fight when you’re in another country… And it’s always important to remember: what comes out of another person’s derriere doesn’t smell any prettier than what comes out of mine, regardless of what country you;re from.

    P.S. Get well soon… And that’s an order!

    1. NOTaREALmerican

      Re: And it’s always important to remember: what comes out of another person’s derriere doesn’t smell any prettier than what comes out of mine, regardless of what country you;re from.

      You’re forgetting the most important thing: the smart amoral scumbags win and you’re going to eventually die.

      Move to New Zealand, you’ll be happier.

      1. Conor


        New Zealand is a truly wonderful place no doubt, but I fear you’re missing my point.

        If, as and American citizen, I burn the American flag (for which I feel the American flag actually stands for) then I’m making a statement. On the other hand, as a guest of New Zealand, if I burn their flag, then I’m being tacky.

        So, I’m staying put… And keepin’ on fightin’.

  9. eric anderson

    40K deaths per year from junk food may be a low figure. But what about the much larger number of deaths from improperly prescribed drugs, unnecessary drugs, unnecessary operations, deaths in hospitals from iatrogenic/nocosomial factors.

    I wish we would see more stories about that. Maybe people would demand action.

    I believe people should be free to eat what they like, without excessive nagging and regulation from nanny government. But they should not be allowed to pass along health care costs for the consequences of their stupid dietary choices along to others. Slow suicide by cigarette or slow suicide by Twinkie, what business is that of mine, if that is your choice?

    By the way, Yves, get well soon. I recommend bowel tolerance doses of vitamin C — since others are offering their advice, I guess I won’t hold back mine, either. :)

    1. aet

      Such a nice person, no problems with people selling poisons to their neighbors.
      Too bad we all cannot be so morally blind and careless, we’d all be so much better off!

      PS Nice argument against single-payer universal health-care, bub.

      1. aet

        PS Science discovers dangers where none were previously thought to exist: so whose “stupid” dietary choice was to blame for which horrible disease, again? i neeed to know how to ration out my compassion….

      2. eric anderson

        @aet “Such a nice person, no problems with people selling poisons to their neighbors.
        Too bad we all cannot be so morally blind and careless, we’d all be so much better off!”

        I don’t know what you’re talking about. Are you trying to say that people don’t know cigarettes and Krispy Kreme donuts are bad for them? I think people who abuse their bodies are morally blind and careless. And then to reach into someone else’s pocket to fix the consequences of your own sins is theft on top of it. Evil upon evil. Let people do what they want. I don’t want to control your life. I would urge you to do the right thing. If you ignore good advice, why is it not on your own head?

        What is your solution? Outlaw candy bars and chicken McNuggets?

        In any case, the really deadly poisons are the ones being sold by the drug companies. With Obamacare, we all pay (through the nose — you can’t even import drugs cheaply from India) for the poisoning of a nation. That’s not compassion, either.

  10. Valissa

    Reality is sooooo uncomfortable… quick let’s make it look more presentable… a little PR, a little savvy marketing and everything is good as new!

    In Law Schools, Grades Go Up, Just Like That
    The school is retroactively inflating its grades, tacking on 0.333 to every grade recorded in the last few years. The goal is to make its students look more attractive in a competitive job market. … Law schools seem to view higher grades as one way to rescue their students from the tough economic climate — and perhaps more to the point, to protect their own reputations and rankings. Once able to practically guarantee gainful employment to thousands of students every year, the schools are now fielding complaints from more and more unemployed graduates, frequently drowning in student debt. They have come up with a number of strategic responses. …
    Harvard and Stanford, two of the top-ranked law schools, recently eliminated traditional grading altogether. Like Yale and the University of California, Berkeley, they now use a modified pass/fail system, reducing the pressure that law schools are notorious for. This new grading system also makes it harder for employers to distinguish the wheat from the chaff, which means more students can get a shot at a competitive interview.

    1. aet

      Your comment seems to presume that separating “wheat” from “chaff” as far as practicing law is concerned takes nothing more than a competitive grading system.

      Good luck with that.

      1. Law Examiner

        Yes, grades mean nothing. A multiple-choice test with a single question now suffices to winnow the wheat from the chaff:

        [] Habeus corpus: another useless constitutional appendage
        [] Habeus corpus: what’s that?

        You can imagine which answer will allow you to join the pantheon of Obama, Harold Koh, Jay Bybee, and John Yoo.

      2. Valissa

        An example of lawyer’s inability to separate wheat from chaff, what is real and what is unreal… er, uh, pork from unicorn meat… wonder which law school and where in their class they graduated ;)

        Officially our best-ever cease and desist
        We’d like to publicly apologize to the NPB for the confusion over unicorn and pork–and for their awkward extended pause on the phone after we had explained our unicorn meat doesn’t actually exist. From our press release…:
        “It was never our intention to cause a national crisis and misguide American citizens regarding the differences between the pig and the unicorn,” said Scott Kauffman, President and CEO of Geeknet. “In fact, ThinkGeek’s canned unicorn meat is sparkly, a bit red, and not approved by any government entity.”

  11. Francois T


    First things first! Get a good reserve of chicken soup. It works…seriously. I read a pretty good clinical trial about that some 5 years ago.

    Sleep as much as you need too.

    Hope you get better soon.

    1. EmilianoZ

      I would also recommend lots of water, fresh oranges, aspirin. And to help induce sleep, watching some world cup games.

      Hope you have a fast recovery.

  12. Doc Holiday

    Sorry about the cold dude — get over it!

    Also see: Wildcatter Billionaire Tex Moncrief Hits Big Again

    hat something might be one of the biggest natural gas discoveries in the U.S. in decades. Known as Davy Jones, the field in the waters off Louisiana holds as much as 6 trillion cubic feet of gas (the energy equivalent of roughly 1 billion barrels of oil). Drilled to 28,000 feet below sea level, it cost some $100 million.

    >> Mental note and disclosure: In 2006 McMoran was a minority partner with ExxonMobil ( XOM – news – people ) in an offshore prospect called West Blackbeard, which Exxon later abandoned.

    See Also: This search was initiated by a post from >
    Viator says:
    June 22, 2010 at 9:02 am

    Thanks Viator!

  13. Doc Holiday Oil Adventures

    Ahhh so, very interesting:

    McMoRan Exploration Reports First-Quarter 2010 Results

    Tuesday, April 20, 2010

    Ultra-deep Exploration Activities

    ==> “In May 2009, the Minerals Management Service granted McMoRan’s request for a geophysical Suspension of Operations (SOO) to extend its Blackbeard West leases in the Blackbeard area. The SOO is allowing McMoRan to evaluate whether to drill deeper at Blackbeard West, drill an offset location or complete the well to test the existing zones. McMoRan’s investment in the Blackbeard West well totaled $31.3 million at March 31, 2010.

    > See: Suspension of Operations (SOO)

    We may either direct or grant an SOO. Such SOO’s are normally of short duration and granted or directed on a case-by-case basis according to 30 CFR 250.172, 30 CFR 250.173, or 30 CFR 250.175. We do not have a regulatory requirement for a lease to have a well capable of producing hydrocarbons in paying quantities in order for us to grant an SOO. The existing regulations, particularly 30 CFR 250.175, allow us to grant an SOO when diligent efforts to commence drilling operations are delayed by unforeseen circumstances such as adverse weather, unavoidable accidents, or short delays in a prearranged rig release date. We may grant an SOO when necessary to allow you time to begin drilling or other lease holding operations when circumstances beyond your control prevent you from conducting such operations. A fundamental component in determining whether or not you are “prevented beyond your control” is whether or not the particular drilling rig was scheduled to conduct operations at your location before the lease expiration date.

    ==> Blackbeard wildcat mayyet rise from the ashes, By Ray Tyson
    Offshore Source November, 2007

    Oh baby: “BlackbeardWest was as tight a hole as I’ve ever witnessed, so informa-tion on the well’s progress was at best nil during the entireyear and a half that pipe was in the ground on SouthTimbalier Block 168”

    ==> Bawk, bawk, bawk: “The industrybasically is like a bunch of birds on a wire watching theBlackbeard well go down,” Trice said. “I think people wantto see how long does it take, how much does it cost, and didyou find anything.”

    Then came the bad news and all talk of another ultra-deep well evaporated. ExxonMobil and partners NewfieldExploration, BP, Petrobras, Dominion and BHP Billitonopted to abandon the Blackbeard West well due to higher-than-expected pressure downhole after reaching a measureddepth of 30,067 feet in August 2006. The well project report-edly cost upward of $200 million, certainly rankingBlackbeard West among the most expensive explorationwells ever drilled in the U.S. Gulf. But despite the time,astronomical expense and obvious disappointment, this wasnot the end of the Blackbeard West saga.

    ==> Oh I see: McMoRan intends to use beefed up drilling rigThe Yeargain reportedly was capable of going deeperthan 30,000 feet but lacked a suitable tree and blowout pre-venter, one of the reasons why the well was abandoned, thecompany said, adding that McMoRan intends to strengthenthe surface blowout preventer stacks before re-drilling.

    > The investment shortfall is indicative of several forcesat work. Analysts have long expressed concern that producing countries are closing off resource access to multi-national companies, thereby slowing development. Further,a limited supply of experienced engineers and geoscientistsmeans fewer and fewer large projects can be staffed in atimely manner.

  14. doc holiday

    “The Yeargain reportedly was capable of going deeper than 30,000 feet but lacked a suitable tree and blowout preventer, one of the reasons why the well was abandoned”

    ==> The Rowan “Gorilla Class” and “Super Gorilla Class” design units, with their long-legged, high-powered specifications, are intended to drill in deepwater harsh environments. Both are capable of drilling deep gas wells down to 30,000 feet to 40,000 feet–about 15,000 feet deeper than the industry’s aging jack-up fleet.

    “LeTourneau took the powerful components used on the Gorilla and Super Gorilla Class rig and installed them on a vessel half its size,” said Hansen. Hull weight of the “Scooter Yeargain” is 12,551.32 kips (1 kip equates to 1,000 pounds). The “Gorilla IV”–the last unit of the original Gorilla Class–weighs 19,965.6 kips and the “Bob Palmer”– the last unit of the Super Gorilla design–weighs 21,129.86 kips. The “Scooter Yeargain” dimensions are approximately 215 feet in length; 196 feet in width and 22 feet in depth, compared to the “Bob Palmer,” which is approximately 306 feet in length; 300 feet in width and 36 feet in depth. Leg lengths on the “Scooter Yeargain” are 411 feet and 445 feet; “Gorilla IV” leg lengths are 504 feet and 605 feet; and “Bob Palmer” leg lengths are 578 feet and 712 feet. ABS principal engineer Joseph Rousseau notes that the Tarzan Class design incorporates a rack-and-pinion jacking system rather than a triangular system, contributing to the lighter weight of the rig. He says that the “Scooter Yeargain” can jack up with up to 50 percent “preload”–or water used to make sure the legs are embedded through soft mud and onto solid ground for rig stability–while gaining more leg-length and increasing variable load, making jacking operations more efficient because less time is consumed emptying and filling the tanks. “That means the driller can set up on location faster and start drilling earlier. And drilling is what it is all about,” said Rousseau.

    The rig has a jacking capacity to safely lift 21,600 kips without preload and 28,350 kips with preload. Each leg is designed with 18 pinions capable of supporting 7,200 kips. “The `Scooter Yeargain’ is designed to rise up as much as 88 feet above the surface of the water, providing a clear, stable platform from which to drill,” said Hansen. The Tarzan Class design is equipped with five Caterpillar engines, model 3516B HD, capable of delivering a total output of 10,750-horsepower, considerably more than the Gorilla design, which is rated at 7,950-horsepower. The Super Gorilla design is rated at 16,975-horsepower. This increased power is necessary to drive the three mud pumps–the industry’s largest with each at 3,000-horsepower–and to handle the long strings of pipe 40,000 feet long required for the greater drilling depths. “Rowan has packed a lot of power into its new Tarzan Class design, making it sufficiently robust to take on deep-gas drilling,” said Hansen. The LeTourneau yard is currently fabricating the “Bob Keller” jack-up, which is expected to be ready for work in September 2005. Construction of the third Tarzan Class unit should begin as the second one leaves the yard, with all four deliveries scheduled to complete by 2008.

    ==> So, what about the blowout preventer stacks???

    The letter cited International Association of Drilling Contractors data that most shallow rigs in the Gulf are drilled for natural gas rather than petroleum, and that such rigs use surface-level blowout preventer stacks that have a better safety record than those mounted on the seafloor with deepwater wells.

    > Curious??

    James: The BOP tests are literally mandated from the Mineral Management Service and they are conducted like clockwork. I mean, if any of those tests ever failed, they would have immediately stopped operations, sealed the well up, pulled the BOP stack back up on the deck, which is 48 hours minimum, and made the necessary repairs or replacement parts, and then would get it back down, re-connect, re-test, and keep testing it, until it passed or kept on repairing it until it passed.

    James: We had set the bottom cement plug for the inner casing string, which was the production liner for the well, and had set what’s called a seal assembly on the top of the well. At that point, the BOP stack that he was talking about, the blow out preventer was tested. I don’t know the results of that test; however, it must have passed because at that point they elected to displace the risers — the marine riser from the vessel to the sea floor. They displaced the mud out of the riser preparing to unlatch from the well two days later and they displaced it with sea water. When they concluded the BOP stack test and the inner liner, they concluded everything was good.

    …. hmmmm???

  15. same

    U.S. Judge to Rule Temporary Drilling Moratorium

    In a filing with the court, the Interior Department said it instituted the moratorium with a view “for the long-term future,” to reduce the likelihood of another disaster. “The public’s interest weighs heavily in favor of making sure that a tragedy like this does not occur again,” the filing said. Environmental groups–such as the Sierra Club, the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Center For Biological Diversity–have filed briefs backing the moratorium.

  16. Jojo

    I don’t notice any comments on this link “Rising China Wages Prompt Nissan, Foxconn to Boost Automation”.

    Automation/robotics is inexorably removing jobs from humans in both developed as well as developing countries. Eventually most work will be performed by machines.

    So what will humans do with all their increasing leisure time in the future? How will everyone pay their bills and buy products/services without jobs? Will maintaining machines generate enough work for all the displaced workers? I think not.

    1. aet

      Introduce more efficient mechanisms for the distribution of surplus than what we have today.

      Seems pretty clear.

      1. purple

        A few bankers might disagree with that. Do not forget, they studied hard in school, smiled at the teachers, and for that they deserve their rewards.

  17. Debra

    I hope you feel better soon.
    Drink LOTS of (fresh) water, and get sun (but not burned…).
    That will help. Maybe. It works for me. Everybody’s got their own recipe, right ?
    On the evils of empire… That was a good article.
    The tone of it made me think of… “Macbeth”, one of my favorite plays, William’s absolute blackest, the one where he showed what can happen sometimes when individuals (like Macbeth, like Barack ?…) get sucked up into circumstances that take them way out of their depth.
    Reading “Macbeth” you see that Macbeth never stood a chance.
    How will Barack fare ? He doesn’t seem to be doing very well so far…
    “Macbeth, I, vii” : “I have no spur to prick the sides of my intent, but only vaulting ambition, which o’erleaps itself and falls on th’other–”
    Lots of vaulting ambition in the Pentagon’s colonial expeditions.
    And we know what eventually happens to vaulting ambition.
    When the play ends, the realm is a ghostly desert, and events are revving up for the whole process to repeat itself.
    Like the author’s eery remark about the successive empires that have foundered in Afghanistan ?
    All this is being done for the sake of HOMELAND SECURITY, right ?
    Terribly ironic.

    1. craazyman

      Oh Lord, Debra, there you go again . . . :)

      I wouldn’t call it the “Pentagon’s colonial ambitions”. Oh man, I remember spouting my nonsense once about this topic a few years back when the Iraq adventure was falling apart, and I said the generals were too tounge tied about the Iraq mess. I am such a moron.

      And now we see a general with a loose tounge and he’s on the carpet whipped like a peeing puppy.

      Somebody told me at the time, or wrote to me rather, and I think it was a military guy, and the only experience I have with firearms was my youthful mastery of 22 caliber target shooting. I was actually in the NRA. Yes, I was. And I was damn good. I once for fun set a beer can up on a fence post. I was 12 years old. And I loaded 4 or 5 rounds and hat at it. It didn’t move. I was shocked because I could have hit a dime at 50 yards. And so I walked up to the can on the fence and there was one hole, one slightly irregularly rounded hole, that all the bullets had gone through so fast the can stayed still. But I don’t mistake that for military experience.

      And so my critic said, “Be careful what you wish for, would you want the generals to disobey the orders of their civilian commander and chief.”

      And so I thought about that, which brings many historical events to mind, and it shut me up completely.

      The Pentagon does what the president says, and the president does what the corporations say, and the corporations say what will make them money, and they make money by selling things to the people, and the people buy what their instincts demand, and their instincts speak in tales told by an idiot full of sound and fury . . . and all their yesterdays lighted fools the way to the checkout lane where fair is foul and foul is fair. And the Pentagon is nowhere in sight.

  18. doc holiday

    US judge blocks Gulf deepwater drilling freeze

    Carl Rosenblum, an attorney for some of the offshore oil companies, said in Monday’s hearing it was unprecedented that an entire industry should be punished.

    “Nothing we are asking for is contrary to safety,” he said, arguing the moratorium will have a domino effect with some companies already eyeing moves to Brazil and Africa rather than sit idle.

    “There’s an ecosystem of businesses that are being harmed every day by this moratorium,” he insisted, in reference to the damage being caused by the millions of gallons of oil washing up along fragile southern US shores.

    Government lawyer Guillermo Montero replied that deepwater drilling was more complicated than many other industries and the government had to review and, if necessary, update its safety protocols.

    “The Deepwater Horizon incident was a game-changer. It really showed the risks inherent in deepwater drilling,” he said.

    Hornbeck Offshore Services, which first filed the case, says the Obama administration’s directive to halt drilling at 33 existing oil wells in the Gulf was “arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion” and inconsistent with regulations governing the industry.

    ==> Also see:

    “Unfortunately, there’s really no place for this oil to go where it won’t have a negative impact,” said James Cowan, a professor of oceanography at Louisiana State University who has recorded plumes of oil 400 feet beneath the Gulf’s surface. At this point, the scientists can offer little more than reasoned speculation. No one has yet gone deep to test for the effects of the oil spill because deep-sea ventures are expensive and must be planned well in advance.

    >> “Impacts to chemosynthetic communities from any accidental release of oil would be a remote possibility. The rarer, widely scattered, high-density, Bush Hill-type chemosynthetic communities could experience very minor (if any) impacts from drilling discharges or resuspended sediments located at more than 1,500 feet away,” the MMS concluded.

    What MMS failed to account for, scientists say, are the oil plumes, some of them miles long, that have been documented drifting across the Gulf from the Deepwater Horizon site.

    Last month, University of Southern Mississippi scientists aboard a research vessel found oil plumes as long as 10 miles long and three miles wide. The shallowest plume was at 2,300 feet deep, while the deepest plume was near the seafloor at about 4,200 feet – prime cold-seep depth.

    > also: Oil threatens key Gulf algae and its ecosystem

    Read more:

    While animals are resilient, habitat is not, said Bob Shipp, chairman of the Department of Marine Sciences at the University of South Alabama.
    Past experience, including the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill in Prince William Sound, shows that if a habitat is harmed, the ecosystem will never recover in the same way. The herring that had once been a mainstay of the Alaskan sound never returned after the spill, partly because its foraging habitat had been destroyed, he said.

    ?? Also:

      1. patterson

        Here is a blurb from the comments to that article you may find amusing:

        Here is a quote attributed to the “honorable” Judge Feldman.

        The Hon. Martin L. C. Feldman is Judge, U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana.
        The full quotation follows:

        “There cannot be any tolerance for corruption in government. If a person is corrupt in government, the public has a right to think that everyone in government is corrupt. Corruption shakes the very foundation of our government.” [1]

        Gordon Russell, “Corruption sweep nets ex-officials; One gets 4 months in prison, another waits to be sentenced,” The Times-Picayune, New Orleans, January 23, 2003, p. A-1

        It’s like all those political sex scandals where the accused has a long record of railing against what he’s accused of.

  19. emca

    In line with the observations on Afghanistan, I just read an excellent article from Rolling Stone on one Gen. Stanley McChrystal and U.S. adventures in that hotbed of World terrorism:

    Although the article is billed as series of political gaffes and personal grudge matches involving the General and a “weak-willed” Obama and his administration (even though Stan and Barack himself appear to be mostly on the same page) placing into question the General’s half-life in Afghanistan, the gist of the article is not conflict with ‘the bosses’ but inherent difficulties in pursuing the counter-insurgent strategy McChrystal has formulated; among others the conflict in foot soldier’s execution of plan ‘COIN’ and the restrictions place by political realism encompassed thereof.

    A soldier can go and blow-away all danger real or otherwise as a prudent course for self-preservation, but such awe and retribution is not without collateral damage inflicted on civilian populations. In the long haul, such actions are counter-productive to overall goals of a counter-insurgency effort, which is to enlist the civilian population into at least passive cooperation (as Iraq?), something obviously difficult if you’re perceived as the villain.

    The conundrum is: killing enemy is the theoretical prescription, but who the enemy is that needs to be killed is not easily discernible or is so embedded in a population, that collateral damage is impossible.

    Add to McChyrstal’s woes, the only hope for a credible plan of action is a credible government, something which despite the General’s best efforts is sadly lacking in Karzai. One can not see this effort as following in different footsteps from the now defunct USSR – 17 years past.

  20. anon

    biochemical computers:

    all the symbiotic circuits employ the same algorithm as the kernel. The only difference is that a biochemical computer employs all the phases, instead of just the solid phase, and a DNA helix is required to hook up the parallels to the symbiotic relativity circuit, for parameter I/O recognition. the resulting computer will fill a productive niche, but there is no way of telling which one in advance.

    If we begin with certainties, we shall end in doubts but if we begin with doubts, and we are patient in them, we shall end in certainties. Books must follow sciences, and not sciences books. Francis Bacon

    The past actually happened but history is only what someone wrote down. Whitney Brown

    The very ink with which history is written is merely fluid prejudice. Mark Twain

    The judicial system is the most expensive machine ever invented for finding out what happened and what to do about it. Irving R. Kaufman

  21. Sundog

    Is “econ fiction” the new SF?

    Personally, I loved to buy stuff: I admired a consumer society. I sincerely liked to carry out a clean, crisp, commercial transaction: the kind where you simply pay some money for goods and services. I liked driving my SUV to the mall, whipping out my alligator wallet, and buying myself some hard liquor, a steak dinner, and maybe a stripper. All that awful stuff at the Pottery Barn and Banana Republic, when you never knew “Who the hell was buying that?” That guy was me.

    Bruce Stirling, “The Exterminator’s Want-Ad”

    Hope you feel better soon Yves! If you’ve got the chills and need to get steamed up, have a look at this.

    Mac McClelland, “Louisiana Police Pull Over Activist at Behest of BP”

  22. Doc Holiday

    Oil largely stays off Alabama shores, but BP encounters new problems

    Gov. Bob Riley, who is vacationing with his family on the Alabama coast, told reporters outside the Gulf Island Grill restaurant in Gulf Shores that tourists can enjoy themselves despite the oil. Riley didn’t say whether he’d stepped into the water during his trip.

    “You can enjoy the beach, you can walk on the beach, you can enjoy all the amenities down here,” Riley said. “But if you’re going to get in the water, use your own judgment.”

    On Friday, University of Alabama football Coach Nick Saban visited Baldwin County beaches to boost morale, the school’s athletic department said. Today, Junior Miss contestants are scheduled to participate in a Dauphin Island shrimp boil.

    The visiting dignitaries largely had the beaches to themselves at noon Saturday. Only a few people were on the sands near the news conference.

    “It’s not overcrowded. It’s not undercrowded. It’s just right,” said Patsy Riley, the governor’s wife.

    ==> I assume they own oil stocks…

  23. doc holiday

    Oh wait…

    ==> Dauphin Island shrimp boil… ummm

    ==> Oil spill not far from Junior Misses’ minds during Dauphin Island trip

    “I’m really shocked that they haven’t done anything to prevent future oil spills,” said Alaska’s Junior Miss, Roisin Nakada. “It’s really shocking to come down here and seeing how badly it’s affecting everybody.”

    —> “The girls get the best of both worlds here,” said AJM’s finals Chairman Pam Patterson. “They have a cool place with a pool to relax, and the beach is pristine.”

    ROTFMAO … The BP World and then the Fantasy World

    “That feeling of (oily) sand between your toes — there’s nothing like it,” she said. “We’re so lucky today to be able to enjoy a beautiful beach without that oil.”

  24. John

    There is some hope in regards to the Monsanto GMO alfalfa case. Justice Stevens dissented and provided the following guidance to the lower court in his dissent:

    “To be sure, the District Court’s judgment is somewhat opaque. But it is troubling that we may be asserting jurisdiction and deciding a highly factbound case based on nothing more than a misunderstanding. It is also troubling that we may be making law without adequate briefing on the critical questions we are passing upon. I would not be surprised if on remand the District Court merely clarified its order.”

    So the lower court now has cover from Stevens to reinstate the ban on remand with a clarification of the original order.

    Unfortunately, as Stevens notes in his dissent, some farmers have already begun planting GMO alfalfa in reliance on APHIS’s deregulation order. Thus, pandora is already out of its box and it is likely that over the next several years all currently non-GMO alfalfa will become contaminated with pollen from the GMO alfalfa.

    It’s a shame that the burden of proof in society has gone from corporations having to prove their products are safe to people having to prove that new products are unsafe. With fracking, GMOs, oil spills, and the finance sector sucking America dry, I shudder to think about what will be left in the future.

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