Wednesday, August 31, 2005

The death of New Orleans

That phrase is what Sedosi used over at his blog to describe the utter holocaust that is the city of New orleans. I believe the news of the death of New Orleans is exaggerated, but perhaps not by much. New Orleans IS a disaster rivalling that of the 1900 Hurricane that struck Galveston. That event was a turning point in many ways. It lead to the formation of the National Weather service that we know today. It also lead to the complete rebuilding of Galveston. The Galveston we know today is very different from the Galveston of the 1900 event. A committee led by Alfred Nobel was formed to address what could be done to prevent such a disaster in the future. One salient point that came out of that investigation should be seriously considered for the future New Orleans. Galveston Island was only inches above sea level at the time of the 1900 Hurricane, when the storm surge hit, Galveston was 19-20 feet underwater. The decision was made to change that. The entire city was built up to several feet above sea level. and a concrete lined seawall was built to the height of the storm surge of the 1900 storm.

New Orleans already has a network of dikes and levees to hold back the water, but of course these cut both ways as we are seeing now. When the dikes fail, the whole city is innundated. The Galveston seawall was not intended to hold back millions of gallons of water forever, it was intended to hold back the storm surge until the storm passed. The only way to prevent a repeat of this magnitude is to raise as much of the city above sea level as possible. There will always be parts of the city that are impossible to raise. Downtown, with it's buildings, is a lost cause unless the city is willing to demolish them and rebuid Downtown. The French Quarter with it's historic buildings MIGHT be possible, but cost prohibitive. But the real problem is the residential areas, and since they are all pretty much complete losses now anyway, NOW is an excellent time to do what needs to be done. RAISE NEW ORLEANS. PUT ALL EVACUATION ROUTES WELL ABOVE SEA LEVEL.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Mr. Rosenthal, what part of NO do you not understand?

This morning, on Edd Hendee's show on KSEV, Harris County DA Chuck Rosenthal announced that despite the text of HB 823 which Governor Perry signed and which goes into effect Sept. 1, He is instructing the police that if you do not have a CCP, and are found to be in possession of a firearm within reach of the driver of a vehicle, you will be prosecuted as having a concealed firearm without a permit. Mr Rosenthal, I have news for you. You do not have the right to disregard black letter law. I sincerely HOPE you have someone arrested for this. The NRA will have your political head on a silver platter. You have been warned. My second ammendment right superceeds your desire to disarm the populace, and in fact it exists to prevent unilateral and capricious government action.

Thunder Horse ballast problems "revealed"

TX Designer over at Big Cat Chronicles has some additional information as to the mechanics of the problem that Thunder Horse experienced. It would appear the issue was trapped pressure in the Hydraulic system that bled backwards through the HPU that controlled the valves in the Ballast system. These valves were configured such that if Hydraulic pressure that opened them was lost, the valves would close automatically. However because a blowdown valve in the HPU bypass circuit was left closed, the trapped pressure seeped back into the hydraulic lines that went to the vales, the valves opened slowly after the rig was abandoned. Apparently BP has duplicated the behavior and has taken steps to prevent it's occurrence. This sort of thing is why I HATE working with hydraulics....

Tuesday, August 23, 2005


No, I'm not talking about old Japanese anime about a race car... but it IS Japanese! seems the Japs are building the next SST. They are planning a test flight of a test vehicle at the Woomera Range in Australia. Unfortunately, EADS is part of the development consortium.....

Apparently I got a little too cute with the title of the post, everyone seemed to think I was talking about a car. OK Mia Culpa. THIS is what I'm talking about:

Monday, August 22, 2005

Please bow your head for a moment of music....

I am sorry to say a great creator of music has died. No, he did not have a band. He did not tour or record music or perform. He made musical instruments. That is not nearly adequate, he did not merely make musical instruments, he INVENTED completely new kinds of instruments. I speak of the Father of the Synthesizer, Robert Moog. In developing the Synthesizer, Robert Moog completely changed the way music is played and composed. Hardly a song heard on the radio today can claim no association with the fruits of his work. May his legacy live on in music.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Chronicle remembers that Houston is the oil capitol of the world

Today's business section was an interesting change from the usual pablum. I was actually useful information to those of us that actually work in the oil industry. I was actually floored! First we have a big print above the fold headline that Indonesia is about to become a net importer of petroleum products, not because they are running out, but because they have not made the needed investment in infrastructure to make the wells they have optimised, nor have they invested the time and energy (and money) in finding and developing new fields. Of course they had to point out that indonesia isn't taxing oil use to starve usage. The same thing could be couched as saying that Indonesia has decided that economic prosperity is more important than restricting the use of oil to save it for export. This IS the chronicle after all. As a result they are about to be kicked out of OPEC. Then we move on to how the feds in charge of investigating environmental crimes are investigating the BP Texas City explosion, then we move on to the obligatory tree hugger nonsense (this is the Houston Comical after all) about how mean old big oil is going to destroy snail darter habitat in it's efforts to feed the oil monkey. then we read about a huge new find in the northern reaches of the norwegian sector of the North Sea discovered by Norsk Hydro. Congrats to NH! I'd much rather send my money to Norway than to Saudi. The Norwegians at least know how to party, and they don't bundle thier women up to the point that they look like shapeless masses of cloth either, which makes partying with them that much more fun. Then we move on to "The Well" where we learn that Chevron's Tahiti test well exceeded expectations, Kerr-McGee won the bidding for a whole passle of new west GOM deep water leases, and J. Ray McDermott got a big Saudi Aramco contract. On the whole, not bad business reporting for the oil capitol of the world.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Every time I hear this song....

Every time I hear this song, I have to wonder if they were thinking of the surfers in Larry Niven and Jerry Purnelle's "Lucifer's Hammer"

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Evolution and Homosexuality: Does one prove the fallacy of the other?

Over at Big Cat Chronicles, Roaring Tiger takes on LaShawn Barber's obvious gay baiting post on abortion and Homosexuality. This got me to thinking about something that has been percolating in my head for a while. Before I begin, I want to say that I firmly believe that evolution is real, and is the source of all life on this planet. Secondly I firmly believe that homosexuality is not a choice but is the result of a heretofore unknown confluence of one or more genetic, developmental, or both, influences. I firmly believe that RT did not choose to be a lesbian any more than she chose to be female. She is what she is and is happy with that. I have no problem with that, if only all of us were as happy with ourselves. These two views however have been argued by others to be mutually incompatible. If homosexuality were genetic, and homosexuality tends to limit the number of offspring, who in turn would tend to be homosexual, then those who believe homosexuality to be a choice (and further, tend to believe evolution to be a lie as well) argue that evolution would have over the centuries removed those traits from the gene pool. At first blush, this would seem to be a logical thesis. I however have to ask: What if there is an evolutionary benefit conferred by homosexuality? Or more precisely, what if the same traits (be they genetic or developmental) that can give rise to homosexuality confers some benefit to the species and it is only when other factors intervene that homosexuality results?
Let me give you an example to explain what I mean.

Northern European people tend to be light skinned, blue eyed and blonde. These all result from a lower level of melanin created in thier bodies. In the northern climes where these traits originated, the much shorter daylight length gave those who could see in low light an advantage over those who could not. Blue eyes confer an advantage over darker colored eyes in this regard. Additionally since there was less sunlight and it was colder leading to more clothing being worn, these people did not need melanin to protect them from sunlight. These two influences lead to the physiotype we see today. The DNA sequence that gives rise to blonde hair and blue eyes however, when damaged by UV light is usually mis-repaired by the body's repair mechanisms and it leads to melanoma. This is why light skinned people get skin cancer more often than darker skinned people do. So does that mean that all Blonde and blue eyed people will die of skin cancer? Of course not. And even if that were true, by the time melanoma killed them they would have likely as not lived long enough to have kids, passing those genetic traits along to thier progeny. Evolution would basically be done with them.

Now, with that concept in mind, let us return to Homosexuality. There is a branch of biology called evolutionary biology in which researchers try to approach the issue of development backwards. They look for what benefits a given gene might confer to a species and then tries to answer "what went wrong?" in an effort to understand the original purpose of a genetic trait that may be causing other problems, such as the melanoma example above, or the sickle cell gene (it confers resistance to malaria BTW).

I have to conclude that had there not been evolutionary pressure for this trait to continue to exist, it would have been wiped out thousands of years ago. Therefore I think the evolutionary biology approach might help to answer the question of why. What advantage does being emotionally attached (not sexually so much as emotionally)to members of the same sex confer? Not in todays society which is evolutionally speaking far too new to have made much of an impact as yet, but in the hunter gatherer society that humans existed in for millions of years before the advent of technology. Perhaps as a team building trait amoungst male dominated hunting parties? Or to help maintain societal order amoung female dominated encampments? Is it even more primitive? Does it arise from pack hunting societies of predators like wolves and primates where an "alpha" male and female control the rest of the group? Or is it an even more primative genetic holdover from the ability that some fish and amphibians have to change thier own sex based on environmental factors? I obviously do not have the answer, but I do believe that if we start from that perspective, we may find ourselves with a much better underlying understanding of what homosexuality really is and it's genetic and developmental underpinnings.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

The Nuclear Arms Race, v2.0

For years, the world has tried to shame and chastise the US for the use of nuclear weapons on a country that it is often said was on the brink of collapse and/or submission. Japan has joined in this “bash the US” party for 60 years. Most intelligent people here in the US realize that, had we instead taken the route of invasion instead of nuclear arms, the death toll on both sides, would have been millions higher. Meanwhile, seemingly the rest of the world and many nutcase liberals here at home as well, seem to want every US general and politician since FDR tried for war crimes. Add in the fact that the USSR and the US faced off with more and bigger nukes, poised to annihilate the human race 5 times over for most of that time, and you can see why the shame of destroying nearly the entire population of two Japanese cities would wear upon our collective souls, regardless of the necessity. Such has been the history and politics of nuclear arms for the last 60 years.

Now everything has changed.

Last night, The History Channel aired a program entitled Japan's Atomic Bomb in this show, The History Channel claims to have proof that Japan not only had a nuclear weapons program, it had TWO different teams working on it. And that four days before Japan surrendered, one of the teams actually tested a device on an island off the coast of North Korea. This team, run by the Japanese Imperial Navy, had relocated to Korea which had been under Japanese control since 1905, to evade B-29 bombing which had previously destroyed the other Japanese army backed team’s gaseous diffusion uranium separation apparatus. This had been rumored amongst historians for some time but with little corroboration, but a few years ago, documents that had been ordered destroyed prior to the surrender but had been instead saved by one of the scientists involved surfaced. This document lead to the last surviving member of the army backed team, which in turn lead to a surviving member of the Navy backed team. The Navy facility was seized by the Soviet Army in 1945 and it is thought that some of the facilities and/or expertise assisted in the development of the USSR’s nuclear program.

These revalations change the entire scope of the controversy. Had we tried the invasion route, it is entirely possible that Japan might have been able to complete a bomb and use it on us. MADD would not have sufficed to prevent it because Japan had absolutely nothing to loose by using it. Japan apparently came very close to calling our bluff and retaliating with a bomb of thier own anyway. Having used every bit of bomb grade fissile material to build the three that we had built at the time, we would have had nothing left to retaliate with. As it is, Imperial Japan may very well have jump-started the USSR's nuclear weapons program, much the same way Nazi germany contributed to the USSR's missile program, bringing on the Cold War that much sooner. Ladies and gentlemen, the human race got very lucky, very lucky indeed.

More resources:
Japan A-Bomb Project
Wikipedia's entry

Monday, August 15, 2005

Thunderhorse Open Thread

Here it is nearly a month since Thunderhorse had it's little trouble and my site stat counter is still showing a LOT of you people are searching for Thunderhorse news. Almost everything I have has come from informal rumor mills. Therefore I'm setting up this thread as a "news" aggregator. There have been a LOT of oil biz people that have been stopping by and the oil biz is a very small world. Secrets usually leak out over time, but we don't always get the "big picture". We usually get little tidbits here and there and we can't combine them into a cohesive whole. So this is an open invitation, If you have a tidbit that hasn't been discussed here, even if it is unconfirmed, go a head and share it here. If you are concerned about the non-anonymous posting requirement, just pick a pseudonym when you log in to blogger, (they really don't care, and they don't publish your data unless you tell them to. ) and let the rumor mill grind away. Mind you, I reserve the right to dump any tin foil hat wearing moonbat rants about how it was all a Karl Rove plot. I'm not interested in conspiracy theories and I'm sure the rest of my audience feels similarly.


The Capitan has the scoop!

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Chronicle discovers that there is life outside the beltway, and it has to get to work too!

I guess somebody didn't get the memo. Of course, they didn't outright SAY METRO is generating a giant sucking sound while absorbing massive amounts of Federal money to serve the less than 10% of the population that lives in the downtown area, but it could certainly be inferred. And well it SHOULD BE SAID. I am not going to sit here and beat around the bush like a certain metropolitan daily will, I'll say it straight up. METRO IS A WASTE OF MONEY AND SHOULD BE SHUT DOWN NOW. I'm sick and tired of throwing my money away paying for bums to ride on a glorified trolley car all day for free. Sedosi has an equally critical, if slightly different take on the issue.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Air France decides not to take the (Air)bus, Air Canada doesn't either.

In a SHOCKING display of intelligence, Air France has chosen to buy 5 Boeing 777F Cargo variants with options on 3 more to replace thier fleet of aging 747-200F's. Air France already has a fleet of 777-200ER and -300ER aircraft, this will enable them to simplify parts inventory and minimise the number of aircraft types pilots and mechanics must be trained on as well since all three aircraft share many parts and subassemblies. The first of the cargo variants is scheduled for delivery Q4 2008.

Previously, Air Canada chose Boeing 777F's, 777's, and 787's to renew thier long haul fleet.

The 777F can fly 4,965 Nautical Miles with a full payload making it the longest range freighter on the market. It also has the lowest trip cost as well.

It is significant that these contracts went to Boeing, and not Airbus. Both carriers have historically been virtual automatic sales for Airbus. Airbus is a government owned corporation, since France and the UK are both socialistic countries, the company does not have to pay for health ins., or retirement plans, and since the company is on the public dole, it does not have to make a profit. The fact that given all those economic advantages, Boeing STILL won the contract is downright amazing.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Socialized Mental Health Care is just insane!

I was reading Sedosi's rant about The Chronicle's desire to throw government money at Mental Health Care and it got me to thinking about my family's own brush with socialized mental health care. My mother-in-law is bipolar and has attempted suicide twice and threatened to do so a third time since her husband died of leukemia two years ago. She lives in Canada which has socialized medicine. Twice she took a handful of pills and then CALLED THE AMBULANCE HERSELF in order to MAKE SURE she was discovered before she died. The third time, she threatened to drink a gallon of bleach to her social worker/home health care nurse. Clearly this is not intended to end her life, it is instead clearly an attempt at attention. Each time she was packed off to a mental hospital for a couple days, evaluated and sent right back home again. Each time, my wife and I hoped that she'd be committed for her own safety. She is more than just bipolar, she calls during the day when she KNOWS we are at work, and leaves these rambling nonsense messages on the answering machine, talking until the machine hangs up. She then calls back and talks until the machine hangs up again, over and over. She does this almost daily. She spends money she does not have on things like jewelry and gives money to scam artists and Jehova's Witnesses (same thing? Good question... But that's a whole 'nother post...) and then cannot understand why she doesn't have money for food or rent. When we try to talk to her Psychiatrist about these behaviors, he refuses to talk to us about it. She has instructed him to not even talk to us. Now, bear with me a moment, she is obviously not mentally competent, that is the whole reason she's in the loony bin right? So why does she still have the right to decide who her doctor can and cannot speak to? Since he is only getting her input, he thinks she's just trying to manipulate her daughter and gain attention (we quite agree!) and there is really nothing to it. I say bullshit! MY mother tries to manipulate me too, but she has never taken a whole bottle of sleeping pills either. My Mother-in-law then complains to her regular MD that she can't sleep and he gives her a new prescription for sleeping pills! (which she takes the second time!). Just how many trips to the loony bin does she have to make before Canadian courts are willing to entertain Guardianship? Apparently more than she has taken so far. The first time she did this, my wife was frantic and stuck down here unable to do much. The second time she was still quite concerned but had basically realized that Canada was not looking out for her mother's safety, nor did her mother care in the least what she was putting her daughter and her granddaughters through so we have started taking the same attitude. If she wants to off herself, there isn't a dang thing we can do about it, and the Canadian mental health care system was not interested either. Getting all worked up plays into her hands. So we've basically cut her off and interact with her as minimally as possible. If she dies, she dies. I know that sounds cold and cruel, but what more can we do? The doctor has already stated he will not testify that she is incompetent. She is not getting any money from us to help her with her rent, since she can't keep from squandering it. I really don't know what more we can do. Lately she has been put on Lithium and seems to be a LITTLE better, but she still squanders every penny she has and can't understand why she can't pay the rent. She talks about moving to Hawaii and living under a bridge somewhere, except she'd have to sell everything she has to buy the plane ticket. I wouldn't put that past her either.

And to think she moved to Canada for the express purpose of taking advantage of the "free" health care and liberal social programs.... I think she's getting her money's worth.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Thunderhorse: the end of the line.

Judging by the traffic patterns this place has been seeing, it would appear that a lot of you are still clamoring for Thunderhorse news. Sadly, I really don't have much more to share. The latest I've seen is a press release from Sir John Browne saying that they cannot say what the cause was at this time. For my money that is not because they don't know, it is because lawsuits are probably pending. And that the start of production will be delayed beyond 2005. And another press release from the head honcho over at Weatherford saying he does not expect the delay to go beyond 3-6 months and that structurally the rig was in a lot better shape than was expected.

I'm really sorry to disappoint, but until the lawsuits start wending thier way through the system, I really don't expect any more news.