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Saturday, June 26, 2010

Going Down to the Crossroads

I'll be heading out shortly for Eric Clapton's Crossroads Guitar Festival.

Little Bro and I are looking forward to 12 hours of incredible music. I'll let the rest of you know during the show with a few posts.


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Thursday, June 24, 2010

This is why I love having grandkids. My Grandson John is playing with Grandma Politico (or The Lovely Wife), watch what happens when he realizes there is a camera on him.

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Close the Locks

Asian Carp have been found in Calumet Lake; within 6 miles of Lake Michigan, past the electric barriers in the Chicago Ship and Sanitary Canal that are supposed to keep them from getting to the lake.

A few months ago the President and the Interior Department, along with the courts; shot down a multi-state effort to get the locks on the Chicago Canal shut, to keep the carp out of the Great Lakes.

Now, considering the barrier isn't working; and using the President's own logic on the environment; it's time to shut the locks. You see earlier this week the Government cried in court that the BP disaster should require that all other deep water operations be stopped, just in case. So, shouldn't we also shut the locks? Shouldn't we protect the 7 billion dollar a year Great Lakes fishing industry from the Asian Carp? Just in case there are more of them this side of the barrier.

Here's the problem with doing the right thing, it would end up costing a folks in the shipping industry, who use the canal to get goods to and from the Gulf coast via the canal, Des Plaines River and the Mississippi river. There are other methods, such as rail, or other directions, like the St. Lawrence Seaway, but they are more expensive and take longer.

That would get pressure put on Chicago pols by folks who usually give them lots of money, the unions that work those shipping barges. Politicians hate to have their donors hold back money, so they will pressure the Interior Department to keep the locks open.

So, while the President tells us how much he wants to avoid an ecological and environmental disaster on the Gulf Coast, he will ignore an impending disaster in the Great Lakes area to avoid pissing off part of his money base.

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Sunday, June 20, 2010

When Rome is Burning

If you are the CEO of BP, and your companies figurative Rome is burning, playing the fiddle, or racing a yacht; is a bad PR move.

Ignore the fact that the day before the media was telling us; on a regular basis; that Hayward had screwed up so bad testifying before congress that the Chairman and board relieved him of many of his duties, and all of them relating to the Gulf Coast disaster.

So, with no pressing matter on his plate, Hayward did what a lot of us would do, decompress. Except that isn't allowed when there is a catastrophe going on. He's supposed to be doing SOMETHING about that oil leak.

I'm not exactly sure what he should have been doing about it yesterday. With no authority from the Board of Directors, and probably not a degree in anything that would make him helpful on scene. I guess maybe he should just go sit in a lawn chair on a Louisiana or Mississippi beach, stare at the water, and cry.

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Saturday, June 19, 2010

More Spill Laughs

Watching the coverage of Tony Hayward (BP CEO) in front of a House subcommittee the other day made me crack up. It's easy to see who in Congress has no clue about how the "real world" works whenever they question a corporate executive.

First off, the folks in DC should be happy Hayward showed up. Only PR outweighs legal concerns; and when a government says they are conducting a criminal investigation normally (ask Bill Clinton) you don't answer questions to the folks doing the investigating.

The shock and outrage over the fact that a CEO didn't know what type of cement or steel lining sleeve was used on one of hundreds of wells being drilled doesn't show an out of touch CEO; it shows an unknowable group of questioners.

The truth is, CEO's can't know, and shouldn't know, every minor step going on with every project their company is running. That isn't what they are supposed to do, and if they are that involved in the minutia of daily operations, they are probably failing at their bigger job of actually running the corporation.

The other laugh is the e-mails; or more accurately, the portions congress has seen fit to release to paint BP in a worse light.

I would be dollars to donuts that the head of my department doesn't know that I worked on a machine for the last couple of weeks that I've labeled a nightmare (as was the deep water horizon well); a hermaphroditic bastard step child, and many other unprintable names. My department head is only about 2 steps above me. If he doesn't know that, why would the CEO? The truth is the machine was all of those things, and I was still confident that I would get it working, there was no reason to go above my manager with that information.

Go find anyone who works on one of a kind things; which each drill operation like that is; and they'll tell you such euphemisms are used regularly. And most of the time not reported to the guys at the top of the food chain. Engineers and workers vent all the time, and the boss doesn't need to hear it.

Does all this mean I think BP or Hayward is blameless, no not at all. BP cut corners, and should face some stiff fines from it. Their safety practices on this and other jobs does need to be looked into. But Congressional grillings only meant to sensationalize the whole incident are no more helpful than the Presidents group of smart people who have yet to come up with an idea on how to fix this.

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Thursday, June 17, 2010

The Spill Won't Make A Difference

I got my laugh yesterday, and proved my point that the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico isn't going to get Americans to rush away from an oil based economy.

One of the folks I see regularly; who I believe would live on tofu and sprouts; was almost giddy with excitement over the possibility of us moving to alternatives to oil.

So I asked how she got to work. (Here answers in italics)

The answer was "my car".

Why not take the bus?

I live in the country; the nearest bus stop is 2 miles.

Why not ride your bike to it?

I have a lot of stuff I have to bring, and what about the weather?

Why not have hubby drop you off?

He doesn't leave for work until 6:30, he'd have to go 90 minutes early.

Why not move closer to the city, so you would be able to get a bus or train easier?

We like it where we are.

And therein lies the problem. Even the tofu crowd likes their houses in the 'burbs where public transportation is hard to use due to time and distance. You're not going to get rid of cars; the biggest oil users; until we figure out how to get to work from our little acre in the country.

They love the idea of electric cars until you remind that they have to be recharged, which is going to require more power plants. "Hydrogen!" they proclaim, until they realize the only economical way to hydrogen is through drilling for natural gas and cracking that, since getting it from water uses 4 times more energy than you recover.

Don't even get into the longer distance transporation of people and goods. Then you need trains, semi-trucks and aircraft. There isn't a good alternative for them other than oil based fuel.

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