Another Snag

03spillspan-cnd-articleLarge I usually love acquiring new words. However, the words du jour are all horrible — flotilla, plumes of oil, top kill.

The latest effort to stop BP's oil spill has hit a snag. The saw is stuck. Face plant.

They have brought in James Cameron to advise them. James Cameron. Are they planning on putting a blue screen down on the ocean floor and using a little movie magic to make it all go away? Hold me. 

Maureen Dowd says that Obama isn't handling this disaster well at all. Well, lots of people are saying that.

(more links later.)

UPDATE: The word of the day? Tar patties.


20 thoughts on “Another Snag

  1. It’s really, really, hard for me to care what Maureen Dowd thinks about anything, but I do wonder what she and others think Obama should do. Go on the news and look worried more often? Change plans put in place many years ago? Have more navy ships sit around, unable to do anything? Maybe there is something he could do, but I don’t see much.

  2. I think Obama should put together a scientific team (draw from NSF recipients or something). Call them into Washington (or some government facility closer to the spill) and have a free-ranging scientific debate. Draw in anyone with any expertise, on the ocean, on deep sea stuff, etc. It won’t do anything immediately, but this thing has now turned into a chronic problem. We can start thinking about how to manage it, rather than just deal with the crisis.
    I think flotilla is a nice word.

  3. How curious that so many people are jumping to criticize Obama–not BP–for the response to this man-made disaster. I trust they are all poeple who support Really Big Government, since they seem to be saying that the federal government is responsible for the messes created by the private sector. I look to them to support all kinds of stricter regulation in the future.
    Yeah, right.

  4. bj, the complaints out of Louisiana right now are centered around precisely the strategy you just outlined: “Don’t keep doing scientific studies, DO SOMETHING.” People are apparently really angry that the Army Corp of Engineers wanted scientists to sign off on a 6-foot sand bank before they just dredged the darn thing.
    I lived through the Clinton years, so I made a decision early on not to follow political punditry during another Democratic presidency. As far as I can tell, no one’s badmouthing Obama about BP on the soccer sidelines or during the church coffee hour. They ARE still angry about the bank bailout, though.
    As for Dowd, I’ve thought she was more than occasionally incoherent for years.

  5. Yes, I can imagine that there are people who want to “do something.” But, as with many kinds of cancer, that’s not a wise plan. I don’t know what the story was behind “scientific approval” for the dredged sand bank, but if it was to get a reasonable estimation of “do no harm,” it makes sense. Building barriers in the path of natural forces (currents, tides, volcanoes) can have all kinds of unintended consequences.
    I’m in favor of the scientific commission, ’cause I think everyone has run out of ideas. We need to generate some new ones.

  6. bj, Laura seemed to be writing about the way that the catastrophe was affecting people’s evaluations of Obama. Apparently the perception is that he’s being too egg-headed and intellectual, and not being fiery and active.
    I happen to think science is good, and I happen to assume that BP knows more about how to fix this than any government regulatory agency (especially the environmental ones after only 1 year of post-Republican funding, and that in a recession). So my evaluation of Obama hasn’t much changed.
    But apparently, if Maureen Dowd is to be trusted, I’m a real outlier. And it sounds like you are, too.

  7. And this morning, HuffPo used “tar patties.”
    Come on, Laura. I’m sure you can write something clever about tar patties and tea parties!

  8. bj & Jody, I think bj has a good idea and am very much wondering if this is indeed happening outside of the media spotlight. I sure hope so, because the BP scientists and engineers are apparently exhausted, and academic experts are probably more likely to come up with fresh and ‘outside the box’ ideas. It is quite silly to debate ‘which scientists’ because the two are obviously not mutually exclusive. The situation calls for mustering all possible resources. That’s why I’m not going to criticize the notion of bringing in folks like Cameron and Costner or any ‘citizen engineer’ who is a non-celeb, creative, and willing to work for free for the planet’s seas.

  9. But the blue screen movie magic plan is a pretty cool idea. Wouldn’t that be fabulous. Someone did apparently email the suggestion of a nuclear bomb. That’s crazy. But I wonder if a really big bomb might help

  10. But I wonder if a really big bomb might help
    That’s more Michael Bay than James Cameron. But, I read that it was a Russian who suggested the nuke and said Russia had done this in the past.

  11. Supposedly the reason why Cameron was invited is that he’s an expert on underwater robotic camera work. If that’s so, it doesn’t seem unreasonable. That’s what was said on NPR, anyway. But I’m pretty sure that the idea that the Soviets used a nuclear bomb to stop a deep sea oil leak is nonsense. (I do suspect that if merely blowing something up near the leak would stop it with any degree of certainty at all, then it would have been tried already.)

  12. But I’m pretty sure that the idea that the Soviets used a nuclear bomb to stop a deep sea oil leak is nonsense.
    Well, Reagan never believed anything the Soviets said either.

  13. Tar patties. I love it. Makes me think of cow patties.
    The situation is so depressing that we have to amuse ourselves with the new words. With all the language about flow, I’m thinking that they need to bring in the manufacturers of feminine hygiene products. We need a really large tampon or something.
    I would like to see federal officials taking a stronger role in dealing with this clean up. BP is fumbling. They’re now saying that they might not be able to stop the flow until December.

  14. I’d check the New Orleans Times-Picayune and the Houston Chronicle for real news stories. Timespeople and Posties are, you’ll pardon the phrase, out of their depth. One of the things I have heard/maybe read (or perhaps imagined, this week’s virus has been No Fun) was that a lot of industry people were in fact working together out of Houston. Everyone in the private sector is trying to come up with stuff, because if it isn’t stopped, it’ll be the last well of its kind that gets approved. See also, Santa Monica 1969.

  15. “We need a really large tampon or something.”
    Just because, I really do believe that we need to bring feminine hygiene products further into the lexicon of acceptable topics (as, on a more serious issue, money, mental illness, cancer, and drug use), I think that they have tried the equivalent of putting a messy clog into to the pipe. I’m guessing the tampon people don’t actually have something to contribute because of the drastic differences in flow rate.
    I’m thinking the people who try to divert volcanic flows, or rivers. We still have the problem that they’re working a mile under the sea. And, no one tries to stop a volcanic flow, only to divert it. I’ve thought from the beginning that trying to stop this flow is likely to fail, and that the goal should be to divert it. That could involve these “caps”, additional pipes, or, at this point, how about drilling a new well to tap the same supply? I think that was seen as too slow, but at this point, doesn’t it make sense?

  16. “how about drilling a new well to tap the same supply?” They’re doing that. I think they have three separate drilling operations going on right now, but that’s taking a long time, too. That’s the December date.

  17. Laura says: With all the language about flow, I’m thinking that they need to bring in the manufacturers of feminine hygiene products. We need a really large tampon or something.
    Brilliant. Get this idea to Colbert or Jon Stewart, ASAP. I think they could do wonders with it!

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