Wednesday, June 30, 2010

bp 2050

the ongoing wake-up call ringing itself off the hook in the mexican gulf brings to mind 1980's "solar plexus", a cautionary bit of science fantasy by rick veitch, which originally appeared in the fourth issue of marvel comics' first color magazine epic illustrated:

(story and art by rick veitch)

hate to nitpick, but veitch does make some stereotypical comic book science blunders and his most glaring one is off by an order of magnitude: the sun's radius is almost 700,000km, so a mere 50,000km tap would hardly come close to "penetrating deep into the sun's meaty guts ..." as veitch describes.

but editor archie goodwin committed a far more serious error: he ran veitch's story with pages 6 and 7 out of order — an unpardonable sin about which i'm sure goodwin thinks he's already heard enough.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

thanks, bp

readers may have noticed the new bp oil spill meter perched in the right column of this blog. it will remain a fixture here until such time that the leak has been independently confirmed as sealed.

my home-made widget isn't as snazzy as pbs', but it can be resized. the spill rate is based on pbs' worst case scenario of 4,200,000 gallons per day (which amounts to 48.61 gallons per second 1), which daily comes closer to reality as we peel away layer after layer of bp's lies and lowballing.

my widget also takes account of local time zones. according to wikipedia, the well exploded on april 20 at 9:45pm central daylight time. so anyone in chicago watching the meter will see the "day" counter advance nightly at 9:45pm. anyone watching in los angeles will see their counter advance at 7:45pm, while counters in new york will advance at 10:45pm, and so forth around the globe.

copy the code below and paste it into your own web pages to get a meter for your blog. to resize it, simply substitute your own numbers at each instance of the parameters for "height" and "width":

<object classid="clsid:d27cdb6e-ae6d-11cf-96b8-444553540000" codebase=",0,0,0" width="220" height="156" id="bpLeakCounter01" align="middle"><param name="allowScriptAccess" value="sameDomain" /><param name="movie" value="" /><param name="quality" value="high" /><param name="bgcolor" value="#000000" /><embed src="" quality="high" bgcolor="#000000" width="220" height="156" name="bpLeakCounter01" align="middle" allowscriptaccess="sameDomain" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" pluginspage="" /></embed></object>

1. oddly, the math programmers at pbs seem to think 4.2m gal/day amounts to just 37 gal/sec. update: d'oh! my bad — pbs' counter is also attempting to account for the "recaptured" oil, a number even harder to substantiate than the spillage. update 2: now revised to include bp's reported stoppage.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

headline of the day

via associated press:

"ex-VP cheney hospitalized after having discomfort"

i never thought "having discomfort" was even possible for a person who could launch the needless deaths of hundreds of thousands of men, women and children across the globe, and who could coerce a public apology from a man he'd drunkenly shot in the face?

Thursday, June 24, 2010

mcchrystal's cadre

via marc ambinder @ the atlantic, a birther wet dream dries up and blows away:

beginning in the early afternoon, a cadre of military and civilian soldiers loyal to gen. stanley mcchrystal began to spread rumors throughout the capital city: that ground commanders in afghanistan were threatening to resign ... that the CIA's chief of station in kabul had stepped down ... that the commander of the joint special operations command (JSOC), william mcraven, was irate and wanted to step down ... that commanders of the "special mission units" like mcraven's former subordinates at devgru (SEAL team six) would refuse taskings from the national command authority ... that buried secrets were about to be exposed, like who actually leaked the mcchrystal afghanistan review to bob woodward.

first, though a lot of officers who hitched their careers to mcchrystal are indeed quite angry, no one has resigned, the CIA's station chief remains in place (though he's quite close to mcchrystal) and mcraven isn't going anywhere. second, it is meaningful and endearing that so many people are loyal to mcchrystal. they revere the man. third, such behavior, while in one context explicable, is precisely an argument in favor of president obama's decision to remove mcchrystal ...

if, as birthers promise, the military's ready to overthrow the kenyan usurper, it doesn't look like it's going to happen this week. 'til then, the brass will just have to keep following his orders and keep showing him the respect he's lawfully due.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

the writing life

sometimes these things just write themselves ...

(story and art by tom cheney, from national lampoon, february 1984)

Friday, June 18, 2010

surfin' mobile bay

fun, fun, fun off the coast of alabama:

(hat tip to pharyngula)