Monday, June 28, 2010

McDonald V Chicago: America Wins, Gun Banners Lose

Today, the Supreme Court incorporated the Second Amendment upon the states via the Due Process clause, instead of through the Privileges and Immunities clause as was hoped. The Supreme Court (probably wisely given the repercussions of overturning the Slaughterhouse cases) ruled that the second amendment is incorporated via the Due Process clause and remanded the case back to the seventh circuit with clear instructions. I am still reading and parsing the ruling which can be read here, so I may have more to say about it when I've had a chance to do so, but today is a beautiful day, even if it is raining cats and dogs.

Here is the money quote:
We made it clear in Heller that our holding did not cast doubt on such longstanding regulatory measures as “prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill,” “laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms.”

So there will still be some "regulatory measures" that will still be allowed, but I suspect that outright bans, or "may issue" licensing may be legally dead.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Why the Macondo BOP failure was a good thing.

Originally I believed that the casing was cemented solid and had not failed. When that is the case, bolting a gate valve or BOP onto the stack is an appropriate method of solving the problem. Since then I have learned that the downhole casing is NOT intact. The 9-5/8" segment of the casing (casing is set like an inverted layer cake with the largest casing near the top and successively smaller casing set lower in the well to minimize the hung weight of the casing string while optimizing for tensile strength.) has been blown out of the well and the casing hanger (which has hardened gripper blocks to grip the side of the larger casing) is currently lodged in the BOP, which is one reason why the BOP shear rams were unable to close in the well, too much hardened steel in the way. This means that the lower section of the wellbore is no longer cased. It is "open hole" and that means that the oil and gas can migrate into the formation and concievably flow up around and past the wellbore casing. In this well control configuration, you need to keep the well flowing with as little back-pressure as possible to prevent the fluids from trying to seep out of the wellbore while you prepare a relief well to to a "bottom kill". Imagine you have a garden hose that the dog has been chewing on and it has a bunch of bite holes in it. As long as you don't screw the sprayer nozzle on the end, the water doesn't spray out the holes because there is an easier leak path, but once you screw the nozzle on and restrict the flow, it starts spraying out the holes. Same thing in this situation, the fluid wants to follow the path of least resistance and we need to keep that path inside the wellbore where we can control where it goes not bubbling up all over the seafloor where we can't collect any of it, so it is probably for the best that the BOP did not close because then it would have simply percolated up around the well and it would have been virtually uncontrollable then because once it starts flowing around the wellbore there is no way to stop it and it will only flow more and more as the flow path is eroded and opened up.

Many people have lamented and protested that BP should have closed int he well months ago and have come up with myriad off the wall ideas to close in the well. The problem is that there is no such thing as a one size fits all well control methodology, and even if there was, it would unlikely be something you could wave a magic wand and have it instantly be implemented, most of them take some amount of time to prepare and implement, some more, some less. Yes, the well is making one heluva ecological mess and hundreds of millions of dollars are being lost every day so it behooves everyone to work as fast as possible but in this situation you can't let that be the only consideration because if you do, you will invariably chose the wrong control strategy and make things worse instead of better. Cutting corners and taking risks is what got us into this mess, it is unlikely to get us out of it. There are times when you must allow things to proceed while you bide your time and prepare, this is one such time.

That said, the first relief well is almost in position. It has made one "ranging run" where the drill is run offset and past the wellbore to allow the magnetometers in the directional guidance package behind the bit to more accurately locate the wellbore. They will back off and drill two or three more bypasses to get an accurate picture of the location of the wellbore before they attempt to drill into the wellbore. Then they will set casing and pump cement to seal off the annular area around the relief well's casing before they make a final assault on the blown out wellbore. This is the most ticklish part of the relief well process and they must work slowly and carefully. I expect they will be preparing to make the final assault on the wellbore over the july 4th weekend, if not a bit sooner. They are well ahead of schedule, but again, you don't want to get too ahead of yourself or you'll make mistakes, we've had enough of those.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Green Jobs and Spam....Dr Seuss meets Obama

Found in my in-box:

I do not like this Uncle Sam, I do not like his health care scam.

I do not like these dirty crooks, or how they lie and cook the books.

I do not like when Congress steals,

I do not like their secret deals.

I do not like this speaker Nan,

I do not like this 'YES WE CAN'.

I do not like this spending spree,

I'm smart, I know that nothing's free,

I do not like their smug replies, when I complain about their blatant lies.

I do not like this kind of hope.

I do not like it. nope, nope, nope!

Projectile Vomiting Alert!

Apparently Al and Tipper Gore broke up over an affair.

Seems Al was sticking it in Laurie "one square of TP" David.

I just wonder how they both avoid serious infections from her unwiped ass...

On second thought.... no, I don't.

Monday, June 14, 2010

We always knew The White House was for sale...

We just never expected it to be listed on MLS!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

The real reason for the deep water drilling moratorium

Astute Blogger connects the dots and I think he is right.

Dot #1 The Obama Adminstration loaned billions of dollars to Petrobras to finance deep water drilling in the Santos Basin.

Dot #2 George Soros took a major stake in Petrobras.

Dot #3 With the deep water drilling moratorium in effect, the owners of the drill ships are looking to move their vessels to waters where they can make money. The closest place to move them is offshore Brazil.

Game, set, and match, George Soros.

Hat tip Andrea King via Larwyn.

Obama orders BP to wave magic wand, make spill go away.

The title pretty much sums it up. BP informed the Coast Guard that it was going to be mid July before it could bring in it's shuttle tankers and FPSO equipment from the North Sea to semi-permenantly capture the entire flow from the well. The Coast Guard was not happy with that and informed BP that it had 48 hours to figure something else out. Now, wasn't it BP getting in a rush and cutting corners that led to this well being 60 days overdue, which led to them taking even more shortcuts and causing the well to blow out? Haven't we learned that rushing and cutting corners just leads to bigger messes? Apparently not. I wonder what will happen when BP informs the Coast Guard that they quit. If the US Government knows so damned much then THEY can clean up the mess. BP will simply pick up it's ball and go home.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Taliban now using WMD's against ground troops

Biological warfare is classified as a form of WMD. The Taliban is now using small scale biological weapons in roadside bombs in the Helmand Province. Apparently they are burying dirty needles and other biologically contaminated medical "sharps" in and around their roadside bombs in an effort to make it harder for UXO teams to defuse them safely and to become deadly shrapnel if the bombs detonate. Reportedly several UXO teams have been injured by these used needles but it is unknown at this time if any have been infected. Kevlar "raid gloves" are being issued to the teams in an effort to protect them from the danger.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Why I am glad Blanche Lincoln won her Primary

Ok, as soon as you clean up the beverage you just spewed all over your keyboard and monitor, I'll explain.

Done? Ok, here goes.

You see had she lost her primary she would be a complete lame duck. Lame ducks have nothing to lose so they have a tendency to do whatever the hell they want and screw the consequences. Given the last year and a half, I think you can understand why a member of Congress or the Senate doing whatever the hell they like and screwing the consequences is a bad idea. So it is better that she survives the Primary only to have her arse handed to her in November. She'll still have November and December to screw us all in the ass, but that is better than six whole months worth. She obviously still believes that she has a snowball's chance in hell of keeping her job so she is going to run to the middle every chance she gets to keep from pissing off the voters any worse than they already are. We DO have some important things coming up in a few months, like a certain Supreme Court nomination....

Why nuking the blowout is a very bad idea

There has been a lot of talk lately about nuking the BP Macondo blowout in order to seal it. This is a very unwise idea, unfortunately it has gained enough currency among the blogosphere that even people who really should know better are wondering if it might not be a bad idea. Let me assure you, it is. VERY BAD.

OK, lets take this harebrained scheme apart shall we?
  1. The Soviet detonations were on land. The shock wave was dissipated by the air above the ground. Shock waves of that magnitude underwater have another name, they are called tsunamis. Anybody for flooding NOLA, Galveston, Mobile Bay, Matagorda Bay and every other port on the GoM at the same time? Yah, didn't think so.
  2. You would still need to drill a horizontal well to within a few hundred feet of the blown out well and far enough below an impermeable layer to not fracture the impermeable layer. If you were going to do this you might as well drill another hundred feet or so and just pump mud and cement which is the plan anyway. This was not an option for the Soviets because directional drilling technology was rudimentary at best in 1966 and there was no way they could reliably hit the original borehole with an intersecting relief well. They couldn't even get close enough to use conventional explosives.
  3. It would contaminate a big and productive chunk of the Mississippi Green Canyon, both from a seafood/wildlife standpoint as well as an energy standpoint with radioactive fission products. Underground nuclear detonations leak, they ALL do. They may not leak initially, but within a week to 10 days they will, and radioactive fission products are much longer lived than oil contamination. Oil will degrade and no longer be a problem within a year or so, radioactive fission products will be around for hundreds of thousands of years. And if it leaks fission products, it will leak oil and gas too eventually.
  4. Currently we have a solidly cased hole that can conceivably be plugged by mud and cement if a relief well is drilled. The Soviets did not. These Soviet gas wells were blowouts because the driller cut corners and did not use enough (or any!) cement to bond the casing to the formation in order to meet his unrealistic quota for hole drilled. Gas was coming out around the casing as a result and leaking into aquifers and boiling out of the ground surrounding the well too. They did not have any other means of pressure containment. It is conceivable that further high pressure pumping could result in a similar situation, but that is currently not the case.
  5. What happens if nuking it fails? you will have compounded the problem then. With so many other possible avenues of attack still open to us, it is insane to throw those options away on this scheme. Now, if all else fails (and we are nowhere NEAR that point yet, media hype be damned.) then MAYBE this should be looked at, but again there is so much more to still try yet, let's not burn that bridge before we have crossed it.
  6. Remember that in 1966, the Soviets and the US were both talking up the "peaceful" uses of nuclear weapons as an excuse to continue to manufacture them by the trainload (the USSR especially) The Sov's were talking about digging a canal to the Ural Sea deep enough to give them a year round warm water port for their nuclear subs using nuke bombs set for ground burst. Of course we responded with the idea of digging a new, wider and deeper Panama Canal the same way, but nobody really believed the hype, it was just PR. It was really intended to be cover for above ground groundburst testing to see how far the fallout would go and to see just how deep the shock wave would penetrate the ground. this was really about figuring out how deep and how much concrete was needed in order to build an impenetrable bunker that was Nuke proof. In the case of the oil well shots these were actually underground test shots for linear implosion artillery rounds (which is a lot harder to achieve than conventional spherical implosion rounds.) which is why 1/5 of them failed to detonate correctly. They were in fact prototype tactical battlefield weapons that just happened to also fit with the cover story of a "peaceful" nuke test. A "conventional" nuke simply won't fit within a wellbore from that time period, it won't physically fit unless it was designed specifically to fit within a small diameter like the 155 mm howitzer shells were but again, the compromise was a very inefficient, very expensive, and difficult to optimize implosion design with very low yield. Similar to the US W-48 warhead.
  7. Another major issue is the geology of the formation as well. The geology is full of Methane Clathrate (AKA Methane Hydrate) deposits and gas pockets. It is also not well consolidated or impermeable. Setting off a nuke would most likely fracture the formation and cause the well to blow out even more. It was the fact that this formation is so unstable that was the cause of the well being so far behind schedule as it was. It caused the borehole to washout and "lose circulation" (I.E. the formation was absorbing the drilling mud instead of allowing it to flow back to the surface through the annulus which may have left large cavities around the casing that may not have been adequately filled with cement.) And BP compounded the problems by insisting that the weight on bit be increased to increase the penetration rate. But doing so merely fractured the formation instead of cutting it. This is what caused the wellbore to collapse and caused the drill string to get stuck in the well. BP was forced to sever the drill string with shaped charges in order to trip out of the hole, backfill with a cement plug and then drill a "sidetrack" to go around the stuck drill string. There is also concern that the heat generated by the setting cement may have caused pockets of methane hydrate to sublimate into gaseous methane, increasing the wellbore pressure far in excess of the pressures the plugs or the wellhead were designed to deal with. Can you imagine what the heat of a nuclear blast would do to this formation? It would pulverize it and cause every pocket of methane hydrate in the area to simultaneously sublimate. you could quite literally turn a huge chunk of the formation into rubble that would have no ability at all of containing all that pressure. You could turn this into the world's first subsea oil and gas volcano.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Fascists Prepare for Kegan's Confirmation

Well it looks like the fascists are preparing for Kegan's confirmation as a SCOTUS justice. They've filed a complaint with the FCC about "Hate Speech" on the internet and talk radio as the opening salvo for the imposition of political censorship of the internet and talk radio. And given Kegan's record on the First Amendment, I'm sure she agrees wholeheartedly with their sentiments. According to an article by Mark Tapscott at the Washington Examiner:

Freedom of speech, religion and other First Amendment issues are likely to be among the most visible during the coming Senate confirmation hearings on President Obama's nomination of Solicitor General Elena Kagan for the U.S. Supreme Court.

As an illustration why, consider this quote dug up by the First Amendment Center's David L. Hudson, who found it in a government brief signed by Kagan in United States v Stevens: “Whether a given category of speech enjoys First Amendment protection depends upon a categorical balancing of the value of the speech against its societal costs.

Keep your powder dry people, we may need it yet.