Monday, May 31, 2010

Tarring and Feathering, Oil Spill Peril and Pain

The horror and anguish about the current Gulf Oil Spill is accelerating, in sad and ultimately
unreasonable, although understandable, reactions. One tearful local resident actually complained/implored he'd done nothing to deserve this....Indeed, he and all the other
life forms native to the 60,000 square mile area now contaminated have done nothing to
merit such a tragedy. There ARE, nevertheless, many blameworthy others, including:

(1) The new drill rig technology designers who promoted
the previously untried one mile deep project; why wasn't a less
deep design tried first? --Simply "scaling up"
is not rigorous science.
Having a superb command of Physics (i.e., in this case, the physics
of the ever-increasing pressures encountered in ever-increasing
depths) might have prevented/mitigated
the disaster before it began;

(2) Those oil rig workers (like many front-line employees)who knew more than the higher-ups, but only displayed concern
for the hierarchy and their jobs when they didn't abort
the project as the problem clearly presented itself;

(3) The bosses who looked at a so-called "bottom line"
and denied permission to shut down operations, who said
to substitute salt water as a cost-cutting measure;

(4) All the public relations people who attempted the
proper "spin" and figuratively turned many of us into
whirling dervishes instead with their lies;

(5) The politicians OUTSIDE Louisiana who are still championing
this energy technology, including, at times, Mr. Obama.
The tiny tarballs he fingered during his recent photo op were
much smaller than elsewhere, especially since that beach
was cleaned up before he arrived;

Then there's British Petroleum (or is it Beyond Petroleum?)
What can we say about the BP CEO who actually uttered the
sentiment about wanting his OWN life to return to normal?

Too bad tarring and feathering are illegal. The above-numbered
humans deserve such, not the animal and plant life in the Gulf.

Monday, May 17, 2010

The New York Times, Ben Bernanke:Two for One

While reading The New York Times Online ( May 14th),
I became shocked that two respected institutions could get
"it" so wrong, the causative factors leading up to the
Great Recession of 2008-2009.
To wit, heavily edited and paraphrased :

(1) NYT Interviewer: Some people ask, could you
(Ben Bernanke and the Fed)
have averted this serious recession? Mr. Bernanke did NOT
state the correct answer, which should have been "No".
Absent the controls in place for some 65 years, chiefly the
two banking acts known as Glass-Steagall, NO ONE could have
stemmed the gushing tide of red ink on balance sheets, Main and
Wall Street's, as the big banks simply ran amok,
acting out that willful child's arrogant claim,
"I can do ANYTHING I want!".
Add to that the rush to sub-prime mortgages by
those something for nothing artists,
the note sellers/holders as well as the "buyers"
who really should have known they could not afford
a house, even after being goaded/inspired
by countless ads proclaiming "You deserve it"
(this "it" being whatever someone wants)....

(2) Mr. Bernanke added to his obfuscations/misinforming statements by repeating that tired
old Wall Street saw: ......the regulations during FDR's time were primarily designed for commercial banks, not the fast-moving, innovative financial instruments in our modern interconnected markets......-Whoa! -Wait! The language of Glass-Steagall
was precisely crafted to avoid all the commingling, hiding, laissez faire fox-guarding-the-henhouse problems extant ONLY after the G-S Acts of the '30's were allowed to lapse during the Clinton/Gramm/Leach/Bliley era. Few, if any, changes in the language of Glass-Steagall are necessary; Mr. Bernanke well knows those acts covered all the zany, irresponsible, greedy behaviors of many big banks, then and now.

Renaming a thing, process, etc. is the favorite tactic of those impatient for fame/fortune/power without possessing truly new, good ideas; this happens in Medicine, Science, and even more frequently, Finance. Changing the terms of rash business practices in 1998 and after doesn't change the reality that the same phenomenon constantly reoccurs, over decades and even centuries. Read Lord Keynes' General Theory, then watch Niall Ferguson on PBS, "The Ascent of Money"--show me the profound "differences due to new instruments in this new century", please, I may be missing something important.

On May 14th, The NYT and B. Bernanke both erred,
a two for one scenario. It's vital to read, think,
tell the truth then act. Hopes for a less chaotically
painful world ride on such an approach....

It always has.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Kerry's Errors of Understanding: The American Power Act, 2010

I'm following The American Power Act, Kerry-Lieberman, May 2010. My concerned
reactions to the proposals in TITLE I, Subtitle A follow:

(1) I understand how fervently most of us Americans want to cut ourselves loose
from MiddleEast Energy Dependence, as the political realities of that area are uncertain,
to employ kind euphemisms;
(2) But Nuclear Power is NOT clean, safe, financially sound, or even strictly "local"
(confined to our U.S. borders);
(3) The entire issue is one of Physics, Geology, Geography, Reactor Technology, Storage Cask
Technology/Reliability, Proprietary Business Interests, Power and Politics....fiendishly
difficult to understand even by the finest minds without years of intensive study.
(4) I often feel that few in the U.S. Senate (or House) at any time have deeply studied
the exigencies inherent in pusuing this technology; former President Carter, having been
a Navy Nuclear Engineer, is the only top official I can recall with such expertise.

Please do not support TITLE I Subtitle A of The American Power Act when it comes
to the floor; the old arguments from the '60's and '70's still have factual relevancy, sadly.
Radwaste is still toxic after 250,000 years, and reprocessing does NOT mitigate the danger.

Concerned Americans should call, fax, wire, email or snail mail their national house and senate reps.

The consequences of inaction or apathy are long lasting and great.