Thursday, July 22, 2010

Hold onto your butts.

ON THE GULF OF MEXICO – Key ships stationed over BP's crippled well in the Gulf of Mexico were ordered to evacuate Thursday ahead of Tropical Storm Bonnie, and engineers have grown so confident in the leaky cap fixed to the well head that they will leave it closed while they are gone.
Tropical Storm Bonnie,, which blossomed over the Bahamas and was to enter the Gulf of Mexico by the weekend, could delay by another 12 days the push to plug the broken well for good using mud and cement, retired Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen and BP officials conceded. Even if it's not a direct hit, the rough weather will push back efforts to kill the well by at least a week.
"While this is not a hurricane, it's a storm that will have probably some significant impacts, we're taking appropriate cautions," Allen said in Mobile, Alabama.
Significant impacts? You betcha. What are high winds and storm surges going to do with all that oil floating on the surface of the Gulf? I don't know, but I can bet it won't be pretty. Otherwise, why would BP order the repair ships back?
Vice President Joe Biden visited cleanup workers in southern Alabama, and said he was cheered the cap could remain on.
"After the storm's passage we will be right back out there," Biden said.
We? What-you-mean we, white man? You'll be in Washington looking at CNN while the storm passes. These people kill me. They're all about making it look as though they're right there in the fight, while they visit and pass through, shaking hands and taking photos. I think they're better off inland writing checks.
Scientists say even a severe storm shouldn't affect the well cap, nearly a mile beneath the ocean surface 40 miles from the Louisiana coast. "Assuming all lines are disconnected from the surface, there should be no effect on the well head by a passing surface storm," said Paul Bommer, professor of petroleum engineering at University of Texas at Austin.
Charles Harwell, a BP contractor monitoring the cap, was also confident.
"That cap was specially made, it's on tight, we've been looking at the progress and it's all good," he said after his ship returned to Port Fourchon, La.
Remember that kid in "Animal House," who ran through the streets shouting "All is well!" while the Deathmobile was preparing ramming speed on the bleachers? That's what I'm thinking about now, and just like Dean Wormer, I'd say "I hate those guys" right before they plow me into the street.
"Scientists say" and "it's on tight" sound like words of encouragement, don't they? Some of them come from the same people who tried and failed a few times to put a cap on the damned thing for the past three months. Scientists say a lot of things, and some of them are pure, unadulterated bullshit. When they're wrong they can come up with a thousand reasons (excuses). I might be wrong (and I'm no scientist) but I'm thinking that a big storm and a Gulf full of oil is not a good combination.
Tropical Storm Bonnie is preparing for ramming speed.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Who would have known the effect of not knowing where they are, if they're not where they're supposed to be?

I don't read as much as I write. I read the newspaper every day, but rarely indulge in a book or anything longer than a magazine article. I suppose it's my child of the 60s-induced short attention span that limits my interest to anything shorter than an average television program, whose length has grown shorter over the years as well.
I recently purchased the first season DVDs of Newhart, the Bob Newhart sitcom where he owns an Inn in Vermont. I watched a few episodes (before becoming interested in something else) and noticed that the commercial-free programs were between 24 and 26 minutes long. By contrast, DVD episodes of last season's Parks and Recreation are around 21 minutes long. Both programs occupied a half-hour of network air time, but have gotten 5 minutes shorter over the span of 22 years. How long will it be before the program is shorter than the commercial breaks? By those standards, it will take 44 years. Lucky teen aged readers have that to look forward to.
Because I am selective about what I read (selective is how I rationalize not reading trashy books and other lengthy nonsense) I tend to notice that writing is more casual now than it was, which includes this space. I also have noticed that a large group of people have little or no idea of the most simple grammatical standards.
I remember being in grammar school and seeing exasperated teachers struggle with students over the differences between their, there and they're and to, too and two. You'd think (or at least I would think) that the differences are self-explanatory. But to the struggling kid (or now struggling adult) knowing that they're means "they are" and that their is possessive are easier to explain than the process of nuclear fission.
The convenience of spell check combined with the laziness of writers is a match made in Hell. A recent article on the Internet (capitalized) reviews some common errors, which I hope you will take to heart. Feel free to anonymously send a link to your friends who have difficulties with the language. Chances are, they have no idea they are using the wrong words, even though they see the correct usage every day. It is a similar condition to drivers' ignorance of basic traffic laws. Until someone tells them, they go merrily onward, irritating those of us who know and understand the rules.
According to a copy editing instructor for California-based copy editing service provider Edicetera, confusing “its” and “it’s” is the most common error in the English language. That one minuscule apostrophe (or lack thereof) drastically changes the meaning of the entire sentence. “It’s” is a contraction of “it is,” whereas “its” refers to possession. Also, watch out for “your” versus “you’re.”
Affect versus Effect. There is a lot of confusion around this one but here’s the rule: “Affect” is a verb and “effect” is a noun. It’s as simple as that.
Would have NOT would of. The subtlety in pronunciation leads to the rampant misuse of this phrase; however “would of” is never correct and may make you appear as if you are not well-read.
Then versus than. Six is more than five; after five then comes six. “Than” refers to a comparison, while “then” refers to a subsequent event.
Supposed to NOT suppose to. “Suppose” is a verb, meaning to think or to ponder. The correct way to express a duty is to write, “I was supposed to…”
Their versus There versus They’re. OK, once and for all: “Their” is possessive; “there” refers to distance; and “they’re” is a contraction of “they are.”
Farther versus Further. While both words refer to distance, grammarians distinguish “farther” as physical distance and “further” as metaphorical distance. You can dive further into a project, for instance, or you can dive farther into the ocean.
You're on your own.

Monday, July 19, 2010

You're too sensitive.

“We’re going to be wearing a bulls eye. But that’s what you play for,” Dwayne Wade said. “We enjoy the bulls eye. Plus, there’s going to be times when we lose 2-3 games in a row, and it seems like the world has crashed down. You all (media) are going to make it seem like the World Trade is coming down again, but it’s not going to be nothing but a couple basketball games.
Dwayne Wade apologized for that remark. Why? Because it was seen (or heard) as being offensive to people who remember the events of September 11, 2001. We call it Nine-eleven around here.
"In an interview yesterday, I attempted to explain how some people may view the Miami Heat losing a few basketball games in a row during the upcoming season. It appears that my reference to the World Trade Center has been either inaccurately reported or taken completely out of context. I was simply trying to say that losing a few basketball games should not be compared to a real catastrophe.
"While it was certainly not my intention, I sincerely apologize to anyone who found my reference to the World Trade Center to be insensitive or offensive."
His apology addressed a couple of issues that are routinely addressed in apologies. First, he used the "out of context" excuse. As though what we heard was not what he said. Never mind that several news outlets played his comments that were recorded. They were taken out of context. What was his context? We don't know, other than whatever he meant was not what he said. He attended college.
Secondly, he used the "anyone who found my reference ... offensive" excuse. As though he isn't apologizing for the remark, only to those of you who found it offensive. It's your fault, and he apologizes to you for finding it offensive.
It is strange to have a time limit on jokes about national disasters. What is the time frame and when can we start to joke about it? There are plenty of jokes about Lincoln and his assassination at Ford's Theater, and jokes about rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. Those events took place before almost everyone alive today was born, so that makes it OK to joke about, right? I suppose a comic in 1915 couldn't have told a joke about the Titanic without being booed off the stage.
What is the statute of limitations on joking about disasters? What constitutes sick humor from humor in general? Can we joke about the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico? Does what we say change anything that happened or will happen? And what if the Miami Heat lose 50 games? Is that funny or just sad?
For those of you who remember such things, here is a little joke for which I will not apologize, other than for the spelling:
Q: What kind of pizzas did they last order at the World Trade Center?
A: Two large planes.
In 75 years you'll laugh like Hell.