« | Home | Categories | »

Documents Show Early Worries About Safety of Rig

Posted on May 31st, 2010 at 18:28 by John Sinteur in category: News


Internal documents from BP show that there were serious problems and safety concerns with the Deepwater Horizon rig far earlier than those the company described to Congress last week.

The problems involved the well casing and the blowout preventer, which are considered critical pieces in the chain of events that led to the disaster on the rig.

The documents show that in March, after several weeks of problems on the rig, BP was struggling with a loss of “well control.” And as far back as 11 months ago, it was concerned about the well casing and the blowout preventer.

On June 22, for example, BP engineers expressed concerns that the metal casing the company wanted to use might collapse under high pressure.

“This would certainly be a worst-case scenario,” Mark E. Hafle, a senior drilling engineer at BP, warned in an internal report. “However, I have seen it happen so know it can occur.”

The company went ahead with the casing, but only after getting special permission from BP colleagues because it violated the company’s safety policies and design standards. The internal reports do not explain why the company allowed for an exception.

Write a comment


Posted on May 31st, 2010 at 14:29 by John Sinteur in category: Quote

"The BP president said yesterday that the company would survive. That’s like someone running over your dog and saying, ‘Don’t worry, my car is fine.’"

—Jimmy Fallon

Write a comment


  1. Reminds me of an incident I witnessed as a child:

    It was the driver of a huge Mercedes, some businessman, who touched with the right side of his car a girl bicycling on the street. Fortunately, there was a bush on the side of the street which cushioned the fall so she was not injured, but of course pale and shaken.

    This guy stopped, inspected his car, and started to yell at the girl; ‘there are now scratches at the door; does she know how much this costs to fix …’

    This was one of the first lessons in my life where I learned how modern businesses behave. Pure egoism, and absolutely no sense of guilt. I think some years ago there was a movie where the director showed that the behaviour of corporations and of psychopaths are disturbingly similiar.

Calgary boy to return after 2 years in U.S.

Posted on May 31st, 2010 at 14:24 by John Sinteur in category: ¿ʞɔnɟ ǝɥʇ ʇɐɥʍ


A United States judge has ruled a 12-year-old Calgary boy can return to Canada after being shuffled through a series of foster homes in Oregon for nearly two years.

Lisa Kirkman says her son Noah Kirkman, who was 10 years old at the time, was picked up by Oregon police for not wearing his bike helmet while on a summer vacation with his stepfather in 2008.

U.S. officials didn’t recognize Noah’s stepfather as a legal guardian, so the boy was sent to a foster home.

If you don’t understand the “his stepfather wasn’t a legal guardian, so they decided he would be better off with a total stranger” logic, keep reading – the boy was basically a hostage in an attempt to get his mother to travel to the US:

Kirkman believes the case was delayed because U.S. justice officials were hung up on the fact she has edited marijuana-related magazines and has a criminal record for growing medical marijuana for her husband.

Write a comment

Monorail Cat is wondering where his track went.

Posted on May 31st, 2010 at 14:07 by John Sinteur in category: Great Picture

Write a comment


Posted on May 31st, 2010 at 14:04 by John Sinteur in category: News

Write a comment

Vatican reaches out to atheists – but not you, Richard Dawkins

Posted on May 31st, 2010 at 14:02 by John Sinteur in category: Pastafarian News


The Vatican is planning a new initiative to reach out to atheists and agnostics in an attempt to improve the church’s relationship with non-believers. Pope Benedict XVI has ordered officials to create a new foundation where atheists will be encouraged to meet and debate with some of the Catholic Church’s top theologians.

The Vatican hopes to stage a series of debates in Paris next year. But militant non-believers hoping for a chance to set senior church figures straight about the existence of God are set to be disappointed: the church has warned that atheists with high public profiles such as Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens will not be invited.

So you’re welcome to listen to their arguments, as long as you don’t bring your own. I guess asking them about pederast priests is out of the question as well?

Sorry, guys, not good enough.

And later in the article they basically admit that it’s all just a ploy to get new converts:

“We, as believers, must have at heart even those people who consider themselves agnostics or atheists,” he said. “When we speak of a New Evangelization, these people are perhaps taken aback. They do not want to see themselves as an object of mission or to give up their freedom of thought and will. Yet the question of God remains present even for them, even if they cannot believe in the concrete nature of his concern for us.”

Write a comment


  1. Oh, I’m tired of this…off with their heads!

CMU G20 protests Pittsburgh – a set on Flickr

Posted on May 31st, 2010 at 13:49 by John Sinteur in category: Great Picture


Write a comment


  1. Awesome.

In Aussie Gyms, It’s the Same Old Song, Kind Of

Posted on May 31st, 2010 at 13:46 by John Sinteur in category: Intellectual Property


In a ruling this week, the Copyright Tribunal of Australia ruled that music is essential to fitness classes, and artists should be paid accordingly. The tribunal raised tariffs for playing original artists’ recordings to roughly 85 cents (A$1) per class participant—capped at about $13 per class—boosting the annual tab for the typical Australian fitness center from around $1,300 to more than $19,000.

It is being hailed as a victory for musicians by the record-industry funded Phonographic Performance Co. of Australia, which represents Sony Music, EMI, Universal and Warner in Australia and launched the case nearly five years ago. The PPCA recently won increased payments from nightclubs, too, and says it is now looking into proposing original-music tariffs for shopping malls and funeral parlors.

But gyms say they will fight back. Fitness First’s Australian outlets had already started playing cover versions that aren’t subject to performer royalties. Others are expected to follow.

Write a comment


  1. Recordings from small labels, independants — who’d love the exposure alone. Often much better music, too!

The Death of Gallium

Posted on May 31st, 2010 at 12:45 by John Sinteur in category: News


Gallium’s atomic number is 31. It’s a blue-white metal first discovered in 1831, and has certain unusual properties, like a very low melting point and an unwillingness to oxidize, that make it useful as a coating for optical mirrors, a liquid seal in strongly heated apparatus, and a substitute for mercury in ultraviolet lamps. It’s also quite important in making the liquid-crystal displays used in flat-screen television sets and computer monitors.

As it happens, we are building a lot of flat-screen TV sets and computer monitors these days. Gallium is thought to make up 0.0015 percent of the Earth’s crust and there are no concentrated supplies of it. We get it by extracting it from zinc or aluminum ore or by smelting the dust of furnace flues. Dr. Reller says that by 2017 or so there’ll be none left to use. Indium, another endangered element—number 49 in the periodic table—is similar to gallium in many ways, has many of the same uses (plus some others—it’s a gasoline additive, for example, and a component of the control rods used in nuclear reactors) and is being consumed much faster than we are finding it. Dr. Reller gives it about another decade. Hafnium, element 72, is in only slightly better shape. There aren’t any hafnium mines around; it lurks hidden in minute quantities in minerals that contain zirconium, from which it is extracted by a complicated process that would take me three or four pages to explain. We use a lot of it in computer chips and, like indium, in the control rods of nuclear reactors, but the problem is that we don’t have a lot of it. Dr. Reller thinks it’ll be gone somewhere around 2017. Even zinc, commonplace old zinc that is alloyed with copper to make brass, and which the United States used for ordinary one-cent coins when copper was in short supply in World War II, has a Reller extinction date of 2037. (How does a novel called The Death of Brass grab you?)

Zinc was never rare. We mine millions of tons a year of it. But the supply is finite and the demand is infinite, and that’s bad news. Even copper, as I noted above, is deemed to be at risk. We humans move to and fro upon the earth, gobbling up everything in sight, and some things aren’t replaceable.

Write a comment


  1. It sounds like there is a potential multi billion dollar business to be developed in the “mining” of all our landfills for the trace elements in discarded electronics.

OSHA Says BP Has “Systemic Safety Problem”

Posted on May 31st, 2010 at 12:21 by John Sinteur in category: News


Two refineries owned by oil giant BP account for 97 percent of all flagrant violations found in the refining industry by government safety inspectors over the past three years, a Center for Public Integrity analysis shows. Most of BP’s citations were classified as “egregious willful” by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and reflect alleged violations of a rule designed to prevent catastrophic events at refineries.

Write a comment

Energy expert: Nuking oil leak ‘only thing we can do’

Posted on May 31st, 2010 at 10:45 by John Sinteur in category: News


As the latest effort to plug the oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico meets with failure, the idea of nuking the immediate area to seal the oil underground is gaining steam among some energy experts and researchers.

One prominent energy expert known for predicting the oil price spike of 2008 says sending a small nuclear bomb down the leaking well is "probably the only thing we can do" to stop the leak.

It’s unclear how “energy expert” suddenly equates “deep-see drilling expert”…

Write a comment


  1. John, that image did not come from the [Quoted] article, so it is apparently your commentary on the proposal. Are you arguing a small nuke would be a bad idea?

  2. You know that the well is sitting on a Methane clathrate bed right?


  3. Did not know that. Article says methane hydrate is more stable at higher pressures.

One of the worst oil spills in history you’ve never heard of just happened.

Posted on May 31st, 2010 at 10:13 by John Sinteur in category: News


On May 10th, 2010 ExxonMobile had an oil spill in Nigeria Delta. It is somewhere around the 16th worst oil spill in [wikipedia reported] world history, at 95,000 tonnes (696,350 barrels or 214,475,800 gallons). Nigeria’s agony dwarfs the Gulf oil spill. The US and Europe ignore it. Oil spills are a regular occurrence in Nigeria, about 300 a year, it is estimated over the past 50 years about 1.5 million tons have been dumped in the Delta, equivalent to the Gulf War oil spill (the largest spill on record) or 50+ Exxon Valdez.

From the BBC link:

Worse may be to come. One industry insider, who asked not to be named, said: “Major spills are likely to increase in the coming years as the industry strives to extract oil from increasingly remote and difficult terrains. Future supplies will be offshore, deeper and harder to work. When things go wrong, it will be harder to respond.”

Judith Kimerling, a professor of law and policy at the City University of New York and author of Amazon Crude, a book about oil development in Ecuador, said: “Spills, leaks and deliberate discharges are happening in oilfields all over the world and very few people seem to care.”

Write a comment

LAPD caught kicking cyclist at anti-BP protest

Posted on May 31st, 2010 at 9:44 by Paul Jay in category: News


The Los Angeles Police Department has launched an internal investigation after one of its officers was caught on camera apparently kicking a cyclist during a protest against oil giant BP on Friday.

Write a comment