Archive for June, 2010

Evacuate The Gulf? Matt Simmons Turns The Washington Post Into The New York Post

Matt Simmons

Over the weekend, an anonymous email landed in my inbox. That’s not especially unusual: I subscribe to several community newsletters, and most emails arrive without the addy of the original sender.

Anyway, this one was talking about the deadly toxicity of the oil from the BP leak and about the fact that the U.S. military is preparing for massive evacuation of the Gulf Coast. He (or she) concluded the email by saying something to the effect of, “I know this sounds crazy, but my source on this is really, really good.”

Now, I may be crazy myself, but I’m not so completely out to lunch that I can’t spot a rumor born of mass hysteria. It often happens in the face of major disasters — we saw it after Katrina, with reports of carjackings and muggings and breakins amid the normally peaceful suburbs of Baton Rouge and Lafayette and the other places New Orleanians fled to. But as stressed out as we were then, we could see that such rumors were utter fabrications.

Still, just because I can spot them doesn’t mean I can shrug them off so easily. Things are tense here now, and they’re getting more so, and honestly, the last thing we need is a bunch of Cassandras running around, screaming in our ears. I can overlook the message, but shouting and mob mentality makes me want to cut a bitch.

Thankfully, Glenn had the good sense to share a link to American Zombie, which shed a little more light on the situation. Apparently, the whole thing started with a poorly researched, dodgily sourced, sloppily written article in the Washington Post (yes, that’s redundant). The author, Joel Achenbach, set the ball rolling by reveling in extreme case scenarios:

Week by week, the truth of this disaster has drifted toward the stamping ground of the alarmists.

The most disturbing of the worst-case scenarios, one that is unsubstantiated but is driving much of the blog discussion, is that the Deepwater Horizon well has been so badly damaged that it has spawned multiple leaks from the seafloor, making containment impossible and a long-term solution much more complicated.

Video from a robotic submersible, which is making the rounds online, shows something puffing from the seafloor. Some think it’s oil. Or maybe — look again — it’s just the silt blowing in response to the forward motion of the submersible.

More trouble: A tropical wave has formed in the Caribbean and could conceivably blow through the gulf.

“We’re going to have to evacuate the gulf states,” said Matt Simmons*, founder of Simmons and Co., an oil investment firm and, since the April 20 blowout, the unflagging source of end-of-the-world predictions. “Can you imagine evacuating 20 million people? . . . This story is 80 times worse than I thought.”

To which I say: FUCKTARDS.

American Zombie’s response is a little more nuanced:

And how is that a financial trader who is known for promoting the highly contended notion of “Peak Oil” (basically states the planet’s oil needs have now surpassed it’s capacity) knows what the emergency preparedness plan is for the entire Gulf Coast? If the story is “80 times worse” than he thought, I’d like to know who wrote that story for him and informed him of DHS’s game plan. If the WaPo is breaking this news via a financial oil trader, buried seven paragraphs into the story, I’m not only questioning their integrity I’m questioning their business acumen. If this claim is true, it should be a headline on every news resource on the planet and the WaPo may have just landed the scoop of the century.

To make matters worse the very next paragraph quotes Coast Guard Admiral, and point man for the disaster, Thad Allen, talking about the integrity of the wellhead. Achenbach just prints the entire Gulf Coast will have to be evacuated in the wake of a tropical event, then instead of confirming that claim with Allen, he shifts the story to the integrity of the wellhead and the efforts on drilling the relief well.

Bottom line: I can handle realism, I can even handle pessimism, but I swear on my my collection of science fiction first-editions, I’ve nearly had it with the alarmists.

*Naturally, survivalists and Unibomber-types just eat Simmons up with a spoon.

Tacos, Beer, And Men In Uniform

Some of my friends are throwing a benefit tonight for performance artist Antonio Garza. The guy — whose cojones are clearly bigger than my own — plans to ride his bike through the Arizona desert next month as part of a rolling one-man show that protests Arizona’s strict new immigration laws.

The benefit kicks off at 8pm with complimentary jambalaya tacos (yes, I think that’s “jambalaya tacos”) and beer, and the suggested donation is a wee $10. If you’re not already planning to come to our show — and of course, you’ve already seen it, right? — I highly recommend this one. Here’s the skinny.

In July, Antonio Garza will travel through the blazing Arizona heat on bicycle with his one-man show “Men in Uniform” to tell Arizonans what it is like to grow up hassled by authorities who did not think he looked American enough. His idea? Turn up the heat on Arizona’s new law, SB1070, which makes it legal for police to demand “documents” of anybody they think might be an illegal immigrant.

Antonio first performed “Men in Uniform” at the 2008 New Orleans Fringe Festival. The Fringe Alternative Theater Incubator (FATI) is now helping Antonio take it on the road by cosponsoring a fundraiser, 8 pm, June 25 at the Shadowbox Theater, 2400 St. Claude Ave, to show support for his ride from Phoenix into the Arizona hinterlands to perform wherever he can – at cafes, bars or churches. Doors open at 8 pm with free all-you-can-eat-and-drink jambalaya tacos and beer, and at 9 pm Garza will present a special performance of “Men in Uniform”. Suggested donation of $10 will help Garza cover the costs of bike tires and power bars to fuel his ride.

For more information, please visit http://www.nofringe.org/antoniogarza.html or contact Antonio Garza at antoniogarza@gmail.com 504-915-3539.

Can’t make the fundraiser? Send a friend in your place and support Antonio’s ride with an online donation (all donations will go directly to his project)!

This Doesn’t Absolve Anyone, But BP Built Its Faulty Reponse Plans On Faulty U.S. Data

BP PLC and other big oil companies based their plans for responding to a big oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico on U.S. government projections that gave very low odds of oil hitting shore, even in the case of a spill much larger than the current one.

The government models, which oil companies are required to use but have not been updated since 2004, assumed that most of the oil would rapidly evaporate or get broken up by waves or weather. In the weeks since the Deepwater Horizon caught fire and sank, real life has proven these models, prepared by the Interior Department’s Mineral Management Service, wrong.

[full story at WSJ]

In other news, apparently neither the Wall Street Journal nor NOAA think Louisiana’s coastline has been affected by the oil leak:

St. John Vodou Ceremony: Tonight At Bayou St. John And Tomorrow At International House

I know it’s last minute, but for the Vodou fans I thought I should mention that tonight is the annual St. John’s Eve Headwashing Ceremony on Bayou St. John. If you’re a cutter, or an epileptic, or a tailor, or if you’re positively terrified of hail, you might want to head on over. Alternately, you can catch the repeat performance tomorrow at the International House Hotel. Details below.

Leonardo da Vinci: St. John the Baptist in the Wilderness

St John’s Eve Headwashing Ceremony
Date: Wednesday, June 23, 2010
Time: 7:00pm – 10:30pm
Location: Footbridge over Bayou St John

Sallie Ann Glassman and La Source Ancienne Ounfo celebrate St. John’s Eve with their annual Headwashing Ceremony (form of Vodou baptism) dedicated to Marie Laveau. The ceremony will take place on the footbridge over Bayou St. John, near Cabrini High School. Attendees should:

  • Wear all white, and bring a white scarf or rag for your head. (It will get dirty.)
  • Bring an offering for Marie Laveau. She likes flowers, blue and white candles, Creole foods, hair ribbons and hair dressing supplies (she was a hairdresser), Vodou-esque items (dolls, potions, gris-gris bags, etc.), or images of Marie Laveau.

St. John’s Day 2010
The same ceremony will be held Thursday June 24th at 6:00 pm at the International House Hotel.

2526-28 Bienville Fire

Fire 2526 Bienville (4)

I came home from work today, weak and ready to hit the sack after an exhausting battle with the stomach flu over the weekend, tired but alive.

Then I heard fire trucks. . . .at first just listened, but it was too close.

I walked out to the end of the drive and I saw the NOFD “hook up” on the corner hydrant, so grabbed the camera suspecting it was a vacant building I’d seen on the NCDC agenda months ago.

I was wrong. It was an occupied “titanic” building, the type with the concrete lower structure, traditional high ceilings, windows, etc on 2nd level which was on fire.

By the time I arrived the residents were safe outside, Drucella and her partner. . . Drucella said she was napping and awoke to smoke and ran out, yelling to the neighbors to call 911.
Fire 2526 Bienville
They said it took over 11 mins to hear the trucks which are at about 6 mins away at Banks and S. Jeff Davis. But it does take time to suit up.

The crazy thing is, the house itself was not ever on fire, the television was not plugged in, the heat coming in the window or just the ambient heat caused it to catch fire!

Thus, there is no structural damage to the house and no one was hurt but the electric is out.

I went back to take a look after the fire truck left and the Red Cross had been by to see if there was anything I could do. Drucella invited me in for an inspection. Thankfully, there is very little damage, mostly some water. I offered any assistance, rides, water, bathroom, boxes, phone calls, but they were ok.

Thanks to the NOFD and neighbors’ fast response, the residents and the structure are ok. The Red Cross is putting them up at a hotel for the next 3 days. Since all these structures sit so close together, whew, close call for us all. Glad they are ok.

Graphic: Animals Collected In The Gulf Since The BP Oil Leak

I’ve always had a soft spot for animals. I grew up surrounded by cats, dogs, cows, horses, turtles, and the occasional hamster. I’ve been an off-and-on vegetarian for much of my life because I don’t like the thought of causing pain. Once, I even took it upon myself to throw back the bream my dad and brothers caught on a weekend fishing trip. So it should come as no surprise that I’ve found it nearly impossible to watch the footage running on newscasts these days — b-roll of animals covered in crude from the BP oil leak.

And yet, I’d never want to reduce the disaster to that. I’d never want to quantify BP’s impact based solely on the number of animals killed. Doing so would minimize or maybe erase altogether the damage done to the residents of Louisiana and their families, beginning with the 11 workers killed in the Deepwater Horizon explosion and continuing today, as small businesses go under and people lose jobs they’ve held for decades.

Animal deaths are an important metric, but not the only one. They have to be considered alongside other stats and graphics that are less cutesy, less emotionally appealing, like the number of fisherman BP has put out of work, the number of restaurants that have closed their doors for good, the miles of Louisiana coastline lost to sludge — sludge that only accelerates the already-speedy deterioration of our unique marshland ecosystem. And so, with that in mind:

BP oil spill: animals collected between April 20 and June 11, 2010

[Times-Picayune]

Tumblr Goes Black To Raise Awareness And Money For BP Oil Leak Recovery

If you’re a Tumblr user — and I know some of you are — you might’ve noticed that the website went black over the weekend. Not black as in “went down”, but changed its color scheme. Personally, I thought it was an aesthetic choice (that blue was getting a little old, no?), but it’s actually part of a campaign to raise awareness about the BP oil leak and raise money for recovery efforts.

If you have a Tumblr account, click over to your dashboard, and right below the “tracked tags” field you’ll see a “donate” button. Just like the widget says, for every $5 you send to Save Our Gulf through that widget, Tumblr will also send $5. And as a professional fundraiser, lemme tell you: a 1-to-1 match is nothing to sneer at.

If you don’t have a Tumblr account…well it’s free, and it’ll put you in touch with 95% of all bears and teenage girls in America. Surely that’ll pay off down the line.

Apparently, Today Is World Ocean Day

Pacific island lagoon paradise by Cuba Gallery

…so if you happen to live near of one of the world’s five oceans, go for it.

Meanwhile, those of us along the Gulf of Mexico will continue avoiding the water lest we be arrested or covered in sludge or both.

Now is not the time to stop buying BP gas

Yes, I hate them just like everyone else in Louisiana. Yes if I could get my hands around their CEO’s neck it would not be a pretty picture. Yes, I am devastated to see Louisiana wildlife and everything that goes with it destroyed beyond what any of us can really believe. But frankly, now is not the time for Americans to stop purchasing BP gasoline and products.

The radio station was asked last week to allow C-SPAN to simulcast one of our 3 hour local shows that has been on top of the disaster since the rig first blew. They stated they really wanted a independent view from a media outlet. Most of the major radio stations in New Orleans are owned by corporate giants that frankly will not allow their on-air host to take on other large corporations. Watching each other’s back kind of thing I think. I understand, I’ve worked for a couple of those media corporations, it’s always about the bottom line. We allow C-SPAN to simulcast us and the response from the American people was really outstanding. The viewers/listeners that called the program, from Alaska to Maine, all seemed to understand the critical development that the Louisiana marshes provide to the entire Gulf of Mexico.

That being said, I was also confused by some and here’s my point. Many many callers stated they have stopped buying BP gasoline and would continue to avoid the company and it’s goods. Yet at the same time they all stated they wanted to help anyway that they could. The main way to help is to continue to buy BP gas. And if you haven’t in the past, start now.

I understand peoples anger and desire to make BP pay. We down here in this part of the world agree with you One Hundred-Fifty percent. But that is our point. We MUST make them pay. As in pay for everything needed right now and to continue to pay for whatever it takes to get this area stable again in the next twenty years. Frankly Louisiana and the United States of America need this company around for the long haul. Not to mention Florida, Mississippi, Alabama and Texas. They will need BP’s financial assistance for years to come to stop/clean/replenish the Gulf Coast region. We all need them to stay afloat, to have revenues coming in so we can take them right back to fix this disaster. Not too mention that gas stations themselves are generally independently owned and operated by other hard working  Americans just like me and you. Don’t make them lose their livelihood because they have the above logo on their sign. They need your business, they have families and bills to pay. Those owners didn’t ask BP to royally f**k up as they have.

We appreciate the American people and the way they are feeling our pain down this way. We accept that you and yours hate BP just as much as we do. We also accept that this is going to take years if not decades to recover from and that the United States of America needs them around to be responsible, emotionally and fiscally.

BP Should Maybe Take A Lesson From Chrysler And STFU

Maybe you remember it: about a year and a half ago, Bush fils offered Chrysler its first round of bailout dough, and many Americans weren’t happy about it. Of course, more often than not, those folks were technically “Merikens”, who somehow managed to blame Obama for the governmental support, but that’s neither here nor there.

To smooth things over, Chrysler decided that it would take out giant-sized ads in the Wall Street Journal and USA Today, which are, incidentally, the newspapers of record for Merikens. Written out in ginormous, respectable, authoritative serifs were the words “THANK YOU AMERICA”, followed by some smaller-point tripe about what folks in the good ol’ USofA could expect from their comrades in Auburn Hills.

Problem is, the ads only made people angrier — not only because of the missing direct-address comma in the copy (which was maddening enough), but also because the bajillions of dollars that Chrysler spent to run those ads could’ve probably been put to better use. Like, say, developing cars that might actually sell so that Chrysler wouldn’t need to borrow cash from the feds in the future.

What Chrysler had forgotten was the all-important Mean Girls Rule: Sometimes, Bitches Just Be Hatin’. In non-playground parlance: every so often, people want to vilify you. In fact, they need to vilify you, whether it’s for legitimate reasons (you stole their money/man/job) or illegitimate reasons (you chose the same theme for your Twitter page). At the time, Chrysler was a punching bag, and anything the company did or said was twisted around to make matters worse. It just needed to sit quietly and take its licks.

And now, BP.

These two ads ran in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal (top) and New York Times (bottom), which are, incidentally, the newspapers of record for a divided America. Take a good look and read that copy.

Are you snarking yet?

Tony, Tony, Tony, if you’re listening, please take some unsolicited advice:

1) Skip the feelgood branding ads. I’m sure your gas station franchisees appreciate the effort, but it’s a waste of money right now.

2) Perhaps you should take the dough you’d spend on such ads — how much is that? $50,000? $100,000? — and build a berm or two. Or put it in reserve. Or better yet, retain some more attorneys. Because you are going to be sued nine ways to Sunday by every person, place, and thing along the Gulf. Probably including Cuba. I’d wish you good luck, but I, like the bitches, be hatin’.

[via Copyranter]

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