Posts Tagged ‘Gulf of Mexico’

Letter From New York, July 19, 2010

July 19, 2010

Or, as it seems to me…

Another week, another celebrity meltdown… This past week, we’ve been privileged to learn more about Mel Gibson’s private life than we ever wanted to know as his now ex-girlfriend released alleged tapes of his mad phone calls to her – so full of invective and threats and just plain craziness that most of America threw up their arms in disbelief. Sounding more like a love crazed teenager than a fifty something year old man, Gibson’s ranting so alienated people that his talent agency, William Morris Endeavor, dropped him from their list of clients. It is so bad that pundits have declared his career dead even as he finishes a film directed by Jodi Foster. I’ve never been a fan of Mr. Gibson’s; I do find this public descent painful to watch, embarrassing and sad though many feel he is only getting his just disserts.

There are thankfully signs of hope down in the Gulf of Mexico. The most recent cap on the leaking well seems to be holding though everyone is cautious. BP’s comments are very careful, in consideration of the number of gaffes it has produced in the months since the Deepwater Horizon caught fire and sank. Doug Suttles, BP COO, who when describing the apparent success of this cap, was so careful with his words that it was a bit hard to decipher the good news contained in them. If all continues to go well, the flow may stay contained all the way through the completion of the additional wells that are being drilled to seal the leak.

Against the good news, there was a scary story I found on Google News that sounded a bit like the conspiracy theory of the week – apparently the reason that both the government and BP are keeping the press so far away from everything to do with the oil spill is that they are concerned we will all find out that the real problem isn’t the leaking oil but all the methane that is building up. 55,000,000 years ago the planet Earth went through an extinction level event because of methane going boom! in the Gulf of Mexico area. Pretty much wiped out life on the planet as it was known then and this article was worried about a repeat. This is something I need to consult with my friend Howard Bloom on – he knows more than anyone else I know. More later, after I talk with him.

While the drilling continues into the earth to stop the Gulf Oil Spill from continuing, and while some are worried about the methane being disturbed by the drilling, the technology pundits keep turning attention on the elegant new iPhone 4 which has reception problems. There is an antenna fault and attempts to dismiss it as a software glitch haven’t gone down so well. Owners of iPhone 4 [I’m not, yet] are being given covers that mask the problem. Consumer Reports informs us that duct tape works as well – thank god for duct tape. Though this all seems “much ado about nothing.”

Last week we had Russian spies going back to Moscow; this week we have an Iranian defector un-defecting and going back to Tehran. He says the U.S. kidnapped him, but we deny that. Apparently he leaves behind $5 million we gave him for information. Certainly he is going to be facing lots of questions now that he is back at home and I suspect not all of them will be pleasant.

Elena Kagan will be coming up for confirmation this week. Argentina has become the 9th country to legalize gay marriage. George Steinbrenner, “The Boss” of the Yankees passed away after a colorful career as a team owner. More suicide attacks in Baghdad. Nelson Mandela celebrated his 92nd birthday. Louis Oosthuizen won the British Open. Busy week this past week, lots of news, good and bad.

Me? I enjoyed the fawn that crossed my path in Claverack this morning and the family of geese that waddled across the yard on their way down to the creek. I celebrate those moments while pondering the methane down in the Gulf…

Letter From New York May 25, 2010

May 25, 2010

Or, as it seems to me…

The webisphere and blogosphere were, literally, a twitter about Google’s announcement of Google TV [ http://www.google.com/tv ] – a new device that using Android’s OS will allow us to better merge television with the internet, all in one device, the Holy Grail that folks have been looking for since the tantalizing possibility began to emerge lo those many years ago – donkey years in internet time as a British friend of mine might say, meaning not so many years but a long time in the fast changing world of technology.

Google is partnering with Sony and Intel. Sony wants to find a way to leapfrog its competition, which it has been having a hard time staying ahead of and Intel wants to get its chips into the television set. Google gets onto the television screen in the living room with an opportunity to earn money from advertising on that screen. From what I’ve been reading, the device promises a seamless experience between traditional television and web viewing. One reviewer credited Google with working on integrating traditional television as opposed to going around it. Everyone will be watching closely because Google has done so many things right – though it has been no means infallible. YouTube is headed for the bigger screen of television sets, getting ready to play in prime time.

Facebook, another ubiquitous internet player, has found itself taken to task once again for its privacy policy, as it seems to be sharing just about everything you do on Facebook with the companies marketing through the website, sharing profiles and extensive information about you with their partner websites. Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, seems to have declared the age of privacy dead. The company’s privacy policy has been called confusing in the extreme while continuously changing. Long in some degree of hot water for the amount of information it gives away, there seems to be something of a backlash right now with May 31 named as the day to disconnect from Facebook. Will we? Probably not. An astounding number of us are members of the Facebook nation, myself included, and it does provide a service and we seem to adore sharing “stuff” with everyone else and everyone seems to relish knowing this “stuff” about us. However, the company does seem to be saying it will make it easier for users to adjust their privacy settings. At the end of the day, people will probably not disconnect themselves from Facebook – we do seem to be living in a day of changing perceptions of privacy. In fact, we seem to relish exposing ourselves on the net through Facebook and Twitter and other social networking sites. We can’t seem to get enough of this sharing thing.

However, Mark Zuckerberg did say in the Washington Post that Facebook may have moved too fast and will simplify the way users can control the amount of information shared. Not exactly an apology…

While the technological webisphere and blogosphere have been all aflutter about Google TV and Facebook’s alleged foibles, others are attempting to read the tea leaves of Arlen Specter’s defeat in Pennsylvania. His switch to the Democratic Party didn’t work out quite the way he had expected. Rand Paul, son of Ron Paul and closely associated with the Tea Party movement, has won the Republican nomination for the Senate in Kentucky. All in all, last week’s election was a bad one for incumbents and bodes well, many say, for Republicans in the fall. Or may be not, say others, as it might appear that the Republican Party is being taken over by the Tea Partiers and it remains to be seen if they can win in general elections. All in all, it looks like it’s going to be a wild election season.

All in all, it’s a wild time out there. World financial markets are in turmoil, the political scene is unpredictable, we’re moving into uncharted territory with the clean up in the Gulf of Mexico. North Korea is saber rattling. The Euro is under pressure. Iraq and Afghanistan grind on. It’s a scary world out there but summer has arrived; there is warmth in the air, green in the trees and hope springs eternal…

Letter From New York May 6, 2010

May 6, 2010

con·tain·ment
   Show Spelled[kuh n-teyn-muh nt]
–noun
1.
the act or condition of containing.
2.
an act or policy of restricting the territorial growth or ideological influence of another, esp. a hostile nation.
3.
(in a nuclear power plant) an enclosure completely surrounding a nuclear reactor, designed to prevent the release of radioactive material in the event of an accident.

http://www.dictionary.com

I’ve been thinking a lot about containment the last few days – there are lots of things happening that seem to need containing.

First of all, there is the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico that definitely needs containing – the slick is spreading and is reaching shore, threatening the fishing industry in the Gulf region, another in a series of catastrophes that have bedeviled them since Katrina hit five years ago. Deep beneath the ocean surface, crude keeps burbling out – at five times the rate originally thought, now covering an area larger than Puerto Rico. And the efforts to stop the well from spilling have so far proven ineffective – not all of British Petroleum’s men and efforts combined with those of the U.S. government have been able to put this Humpty Dumpty together again.

BP’s CEO Hayward was heard to say: what did we do to deserve this? Perhaps not pay enough attention to well safety? Eleven men are missing and presumed dead. Some are already declaring the fishing industry in the Gulf dead on arrival, not seeing a way that they will recover from what is becoming the largest oil spill in U.S. history.

There is a lot of effort going into containing this catastrophe with its attendant ecological and political fallout – the Obama Administration is scurrying to contain accusations that it moved too slowly in responding to the situation, desperate to avoid comparisons to the Bush Administration’s response to Katrina.

And while BP’s Hayward is doing his best to contain the oil spill and the corporate backlash, another CEO, Lloyd Blankfein of Goldman Sachs is doing his best to contain the potential damage to his financial behemoth as it faces both civil and criminal investigations over the way it handled sales of mortgage back securities. He appeared before a very hostile Congress, where some comments from lawmakers had to be bleeped because the language was so strong. He did a good enough job in Washington that most think he will save his job. Friday night he appeared on Charlie Rose, again elegantly and eloquently defending his company while promising more careful oversight going forward as a result of current corporate soul searching. It was exactly what you’d expect from the CEO of Goldman Sachs after being taken to task so severely by Congress. It was a worthy effort at containment.

The State of Arizona is working to contain the fallout that is resulting from passing a tough immigration law. While the majority of Arizonans favor the law [as do, apparently a majority of Americans] there were protests held in something like eighty cities this past weekend and many are calling for boycotts of the State of Arizona. This was not unexpected though what was unexpected, according to an Arizonan interviewed on NPR, was that some Arizona companies are taking about boycotting Arizona.

And, certainly sobering to me, was waking to the news on Sunday, that a car bomb had failed to go off in Times Square on Saturday night – a failure on the part of the men who assembled it. New York has been lucky in containing such threats as these, having stopped a crew intent on bombing the subway last year and saved this time by apparent incompetence. But it is a sobering thought, and I am grateful that this incident did not result in death and destruction. Awareness is heightened that we are vulnerable and efforts are continuing to be made to wrack mayhem on us. And this will be a condition that will be hard to contain.

Thinking about the news of the week, it seems that it has all been about the “act or condition of containing,” fighting back ecological disaster, corporate catastrophe and political fallout. Legions are engaged in stopping the oil spill, legal and public relations legions are engaged in walling off BP and Goldman Sachs from their troubles, and so on and on…men’s efforts to enclose and contain the toxic results of acts of other human beings.