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What the Crap, BP?! May 26, 2010

Posted by A. Robinson in Life, Loathin'.
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OH MY GOD.  It has been umpteen thousand million days since this whole fiasco started (read: over a month), and still no solution.  An article in USAToday says that BP is trying a “top kill” method of plugging the spill that works on aboveground leaks, but it has never been tried underwater.  Their estimate for success?  Somewhere between 60% and 70%.  I don’t know about you, but those are unacceptable grades for a math test, much less the last desperate idea to stop ecological travesty.

Let me just get this out of the way before I continue on:  SCREW YOU, BP.

First, get a sense of the size of this spill.  One of John’s coworkers mocked up these images yesterday, and it really puts things in perspective, though you’ll need to click through to see the full size image:

Here's an outline of the spill in the gulf. It's already big, right?

Here's what the spill would look like on land in Northwest Arkansas

I feel awful that people died in this catastrophe, but their deaths are far outweighed by the outrageous awfulness that is this oil spill.  Scientists estimate that 7 million gallons of oil have already leaked–oh, excuse me, GUSHED–into the Gulf, and if this last minute attempt at plugging the hole doesn’t work, there will be “significant down time” before another alternative can be implemented.  That’s compounded by the fact that scientists say the oil plume is actually getting darker, which implies that the oil coming out is more polluted and even more dangerous.  The dispersants that BP originally used to try and break up the oil are just as flawed; now there are giant plumes of oil floating willy-nilly in the water column.

The water is so toxic that they won’t let divers go in with ANY SKIN EXPOSED.

What really pisses me off is that this whole disaster could have been avoided if the platform had redundant shut-off valves.  When oil companies–including BP–were approached about this by regulatory committees, they pooh-poohed it off as overly expensive and unnecessary.  Now BP is facing a piddling $4300 dollar per barrel fine (which, by my estimates, totals somewhere near $30 billion dollars in addition to clean-up costs.  Lots of people are wagging their fingers at BP, but we should also be looking at Deepwater Horizon (which owned the rig) and Halliburton (which set the lines).  Even more so, we should be glaring down a gunsight at OSHA, which is in charge of inspecting and regulating off-shore drilling rigs.

This should make Obama’s push to open new offshore drilling sites even more infuriating that it was when he backed out of his campaign promise to stop the expansion of such drilling sites.  This wasn’t an old announcement, either–this hit the wire a mere three weeks before BP blew the Gulf of Mexico all to heck.  Don’t read this as an indictment of the Obama administration, because I know full well that McCain would have done the same thing. Consider this an indictment of the American political system that has been sleeping with Big Oil for the past century.

People are screaming at the government to get involved in this process, but that’s not feasible, either.  What is the government going to do that BP isn’t’ already doing?  Obama has assembled a team of scientists to deal with this issue, but they’re going to need as much time as BP is to get in there and fix this thing.  Not only that, but why waste taxpayer dollars on this when you can run a company into the ground instead?  I really think that BP is trying to do everything they can to stop this leak to save the company itself.  Any more of this and they’re going to go under: hook, line, and sinker.  In an effort at self-preservation they’re going to do anything they can to get this mess cleaned up.  The government would be no faster, more efficient, or better.  The only thing it could do is get more manpower on the scene, but with 21,000 BP employees already on the ground and countless American scientists and volunteers, how many more people do you need right now?

The real tragedy here is that it doesn’t matter what we do now.  Even if we plugged the spill today, we cannot feasibly undo the damage to the gulf.  The ecosystem will take decades to recover, but with the current state of affairs–global warming, oceanic acidity, pollution, et. al–it may never, ever recover.  EVER.  All of the regulation, restrictions, and nay-saying that will come in the next few months isn’t going to fix anything.  It may prevent another spill of this magnitude, but it’s not going to help out the Gulf Coast now.

I hope you all are PISSED OFF at the lack of planning, initiative, and competency evidenced by everyone involved in the offshore oil drilling industry. I sure am.

Awesome Time Waster May 18, 2010

Posted by A. Robinson in Life.
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Do you love those flame-style graphic wallpapers that Macs have standard?  Now you can make your own.  This website is not only totally addicting, it lets you export your creations so you can enjoy them on your laptop, desktop, or iPhone.

Whee!

Life List: 81-90 May 17, 2010

Posted by A. Robinson in Life, Life List.
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I’m trying to get to 100 on my list, but it’s taking a while.  Only one more installment (and subsequent bonus rounds!) to go.

81.  Plan and host a large reunion with my closest friends
This needs to happen somewhere really, really awesome, like the mountains in Colorado.  I don’t know…I always imagine this happening in a cabin.  I would totally be open to a beach, especially if there’s someone to bring us refreshing drinks and cool towels.

82.  Watch AFI’s 100 Years, 100 Movies list
You know the one.

83.  Have a stand at a Farmer’s Market
I want to sell flowers and vegetables.  Hopefully I’ll do this when I’m old and adorable so that I’ll actually make MONEY.

84. Hula in Hawaii…
wearing a coconut bra if possible (and not culturally insensitive)

85.  Attend a writer’s conference

86.  Get involved in a home church
John and I are so involved in our collegiate ministry that we haven’t tied ourselves down to a home church.  I know this is really important, and I want to make sure we have strong roots in one before (if?) we have kids.

87.  Ride a waterski
This looks like a blast, especially because I wants to go FAST.

88.  Horseback ride in Ireland
When I was a kid, I used to get Horse Illustrated magazine every month.  They used to have ads all over the place about international horseback riding vacations, and I always wanted to do the Ireland one.   Riding ponies by castles?  I’m in.

89.  Learn to identify the native trees of Arkansas.

It frustrates me that I don’t know how to identify trees.  I’m pretty good with plants and flowers, but if it has bark I’m clueless.  Unless it’s a maple or an oak I’m at a loss, which is a real shame seeing that I’m fascinated by trees in general.

90.  Take an art class with John.
But not like, a drawing class.  The class needs to be in some medium that we’ve never worked in before, like paint, clay, ceramics, or glass.  If we do a clay class, maybe we’ll end up being all sexy like in that scene from Ghost, only John won’t be dead.

Lovin’: This May 12, 2010

Posted by A. Robinson in Life, Lovin'.
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Via nathanwpyle.blogspot.com

Life List: 71-80 May 12, 2010

Posted by A. Robinson in Life, Life List.
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71.  Visit Oxford and Cambridge
These universities have so much history (did you know that Byron kept a pet bear during his stay at Cambridge?).  I’d just like to walk their hallowed halls and hope all that knowledge can be absorbed through osmosis.

72.  Watch an Olympic event live, in person!
For real.  I’m sort of in love with the Olympics for whatever reason, and I can’t imagine any more intense sporting arena (except for maybe the World Cup).  I’d much rather go to the summer games, for obvious reasons.

73.  Watch the University of Arkansas compete for a National Championship in any sport (though football or basketball, preferably)
Maybe this will happen before I die.  Emphasis on maybe.

74.  Plan a vacation on Monday and go somewhere fabulous on Friday
John and I are not known for our abundance of spontaneity, so I think it would be nice to grab life by the balls, if you will, and just go somewhere incredible. Ideally, money should not be a concern here, because worrying about how you’re going to pay for stuff sucks the fun out of traveling.

75.  Learn to play bass guitar
Admit it, chick bass players are HAWT.

76.  Retire with a million dollars
Did I already write this one down?  I can’t remember, nor can I bothered to go back and look right now.

77.  Wear an expensive, gorgeous gown to the Addys
This, of course, hinges on John going to the Addys for his work.  He’s already won a bunch of regional awards, and his team has been covered in national trade magazines.  Guess that’s what happens when you work for the largest shopper marketing agency in the world/the third largest advertising agency in the world. (Yes, I’m bragging because, yes, I’m immensely proud).

78.  Participate in an election campaign
I don’t do enough voting and/or volunteering to suit my tastes.  Hopefully really, really working and advocating on behalf of a candidate that I truly believe in (one day, hah!) will restore my faith in the government.

79.  Buy nothing but organic/eco-friendly for a month
This will be expensive, I know.  But I think I need to figure out how much LESS cost effective this is than what we normally shop for in order to figure out how organic/free range/eco-friendly products and produce can better fit into our lives.  I know it’s better for you and I truly do encourage sustainable farming practices, so this will be a step in the right direction.

80.  Institute five “green” changes in my life
This dovetails with number 79, of course.  These don’t have to be huge changes, but they need to be changes that I know I can make permanently to my lifestyle.  In other words, this is going to be less “sell my car and get a bike” and more “change all my lightbulbs to LED bulbs.”

The Baptist Farmer May 10, 2010

Posted by A. Robinson in Life, Life List.
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Hey, I’m putting off working on my (already behind schedule) thesis.  What are you doing today?

I thought I’d take a few minutes to introduce you to my very first container garden.

Here's one half, anyway.

Ah, there's the rest!

The containers are courtesy of my grandfather’s friend Kenneth Swift, who gave them to us for free.  They’re originally cattle feeders; John and I drilled holes in the bottom of them and painted them to make them a little less…well, royal blue.

So far we’re growing mostly herbs: basil, oregano, chives, rosemary, and a bunch of cilantro.  We’ve got a few roma tomatoes, bell peppers, and some lettuce thrown into the mix too, though.  Grandpa also gave me some garlic, which I need to pot sometime today.

So far everything seems to be happy and healthy, though I’ll let you know how it’s progressing in a few weeks.  I’ve only gardened with lots of supervision, so this might end up being a practice in futility.  Hopefully not, though.