Thursday, October 7, 2010

What oil spill? Oil spill?

Hey, remember that big oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico? I do. Suddenly, we don't hear anything about it. Since Chevron put the cement cap in the well the news from the area has slowed to a ... drip. As is the usual, our federal government may have withheld some information from us when the well initially started leaking, as a panel reported today:

WASHINGTON - The Obama administration blocked efforts by government scientists to tell the public just how bad the Gulf of Mexico oil spill could become and committed other missteps that raised questions about its competence and candor during the crisis, according to a commission appointed by the president to investigate the disaster. In documents released Wednesday, the national oil spill commission's staff describes "not an incidental public relations problem" by the White House after the April 20 accident.
Among other things, the report says, the administration made erroneous early estimates of the spill's size, and President Obama's senior energy adviser went on national TV and mis-characterized a government analysis by saying it showed most of the oil was "gone." The analysis actually said it could still be there.

I love government-speak. They mis-characterized. That's what you and I would call lying. And who'd-a-thunk that the oil could still be there? You mean it didn't magically disappear? Didn't Santa's elves come in at night and sweep it all away with their little brooms?

"By initially underestimating the amount of oil flow and then, at the end of the summer, appearing to underestimate the amount of oil remaining in the gulf, the federal government created the impression that it was either not fully competent to handle the spill or not fully candid with the American people about the scope of the problem," the report says.

Shouldn't we be used to the government not being fully candid with us? Surprisingly, very little public criticism has been leveled against the government for what it told us about the spill. I suppose all those photos of the president swimming in the shallow water with his kids didn't persuade the panel. That's a shame because it sure looked like he was swimming in the Gulf of Mexico.
Perhaps he mis-characterized swimming?

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Tommy, can you see me?

If you can't go to the DMV to people-watch, the second best place is your local doctor's office. Mom was having laser eye surgery today and yours truly was in charge of transportation. In the office, there was a sign posted that read: TURN YOUR CELL PHONES OFF UPON ENTERING THE OFFICE. IF YOU NEED TO MAKE A CALL, PLEASE USE THE HALLWAY. It might have said "Thank You" after that, but I don't remember. Either way, you'd figure that middle-America would get the point.
But we haven't progressed far enough as a society that we know how to deal with the cellular telephone - hence the laws prohibiting texting while driving (duh) and the several verbal warnings about its use in public. A few minutes after I sat down, an elderly woman with a phone sat down two chairs away and picked her phone out of her handbag. Dialing, she said to her counterpart, "Talk to me," as though the other person was expecting her call and those of us in the audience couldn't wait to hear what she had to say. It wasn't all that interesting.
An agonizing minute after she started talking, a nurse came out to request her presence in the examination room. "OK, I have to go see the doctor now. I'll call you back," she told her friend. No kidding. Why else are you there if not to see the doctor? Let me check the sign again. Nope, still no cell phones allowed. Never mind, that rule wasn't made for you.
Go see the doctor. Chances are, your eyes are OK, even though it's apparent you cannot read. But your hearing is fine.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Where is everybody?

I haven't posted any photos in a while. Mostly, it's because I haven't taken any photos lately. That's pretty easy to explain. These, of course, were taken in Baltimore. I was there over the weekend to see the Orioles and a street fair called the Fells Point Festival.
The population of Baltimore is around 700,000. I have no idea where everybody was on Sunday.
The top photo is the famous Inner Harbor, with the USS Constellation and a building they call the World Trade Center at the left. It was early on Sunday morning, so the hordes of tourists hadn't yet descended on the place.
There is a 4-story shopping mall called The Gallery across the street from Harborplace, and I thought the insides were photogenic. The stores weren't open yet, so once again, it looked a little like a ghost town.
The Orioles were playing the Tigers at Camden Yards, and the players might have outnumbered the fans. The biggest cheers of the day came when the Ravens final score was announced. I'm not sure where everybody was, but it was kind of nice to be able to walk up to the ticket window and get a $17 seat to a Major League game without having to bother with Stubhub or one of those online ticket scams. Just like the old days.