Are your isms in check?

30 10 2011

Are your isms in check?

Communism is a socioeconomic  structure and political ideology that promotes the establishment of an egalitarian, classless, stateless, society based on common ownership and control of the means of production and property in general.  Karl Marx posited that communism would be the final stage in human society, which would be achieved through a proletarian revolution and only becoming possible after a socialist stage develops the productive forces, leading to a superabundance of goods and services.  “Pure communism” in the Marxian sense refers to a classless, stateless and oppression-free society where decisions on what to produce and what policies to pursue are made democratically, allowing every member of society to participate in the decision making process in both the political and the economic spheres of life.  In modern usage, communism is often used to refer to Bolshevism or Marxism-Leninism and the policies of various communist states which had government ownership of all the means of production and centrally planned economies.

Socialism refers to various theories of economic organization advocating public or direct worker ownership and administration of the means of production and allocation of resources, and a society characterized by equal access to resources  for all individuals with a method of compensation based on the amount of labor expended. Most socialists share the view that capitalism unfairly concentrates power and wealth among a small segment of society that controls capital  and derives its wealth through exploration, creates an unequalsociety, does not provide equal opportunities for everyone to maximise their potentialities and does not utilize technology and resources to their maximum potential nor in the interests of the public. Socialism is not a concrete philosophy of fixed doctrine and programme; its branches advocate a degree of social interventionsimand economic rationalization (usually in the form of economic planning), but sometimes oppose each other. A dividing feature of the socialist movement is the split between reformists and revolutionaries  on how a socialist economy should be established. Some socialists advocate complete nationalizationof the means of production, distribution, and exchange; others advocate state control of capital within the framework of a market economy. The first socialists predicted a world improved by harnessing technology and combining it with better social organization, and many contemporary socialists share this belief. Early socialist thinkers tended to favor an authentic meritocracy combined with rational social planning, while many modern socialists have a more egalitarian approach. Valdimir  Lenin, drawing on Karl Marx’s  ideas of “lower” and “upper” stages of socialism, defined “socialism” as a transitional stage between capitalism and communism.

Capitalism is an economic and social system in which capital, the non-labor factors of production, is privately controlled; labor,   goods and capital are traded in markets; and profits  distributed to owners or invested in technologies and industries. There is no consensus on capitalism nor how it should be used as an analytical category. There are a variety of historical cases over which it is applied, varying in time, geography, politics and culture. Economists and historians have taken different perspectives on the analysis of capitalism. Scholars in the social sciences, including historians, economic sociologists, economists, anthropologists and philosophers have debated over how to define capitalism, however there is little controversy that private ownership of the means of production, creation of goods or services for profit in a market, and prices and wages are elements of capitalism. Economists usually put emphasis on the marketmechanism, degree of government control over markets, and property rights, while most political economists emphasize private property, power, relations, wage labor, and class.  The extent to which different markets are “free”, as well as the rules determining what may and may not be private property, is a matter of politics and policy and many states have what are termed “mixed economies”.

Corporatism is related to the sociological concept of structural functionalism. Corporate social interaction is common within related groups.  Corporatism, also known as corporativism, is a system of economic, political, or social organization that views a community as a body.  Formal corporatist models are based upon the contract of corporate groups such as agricultural, business, ethnic, military, scientific, or religious affiliations, into a collective body. One of the most prominent forms of corporatism is economic triparism involving negotiations between business, labour, and state interest groups to set economic policy. In contemporary usage, “corporatism” is often incorrectly used as a pejorative term against the domination of politics by the interests of private business corporations; however, such a system would be more accurately described as a form of corporatocracy. Corporatocracy (or corpocracy) is a form of government where corporations/conglomerates and/or government entities with private components, control the direction and governance of a country. Corporatist views of community and social interaction are common in many major world religions and Corporatism has been utilized by many ideologies across the political spectrum including; absolutism, capitalism, socialism, fascism, social democracy, conservatism and liberalism.  Meanwhile, the concept of corpocracy allows corporations to provide financial support to competing political parties and major political party candidates.  This allows the corporations to hedge their bets on the outcome of an election so that they are assured to have a winner who is indebted to them. As politicians are increasingly dependent on campaign contributions to become elected, their objectiveness on issues which concern corporate interests is compromised.

Realism is based on thoughts/deductions from the exercise of using common logic when studying real situations.  Direct realists might claim that indirect realists are confused about conventional idioms such as indirect perception.  An example of indirect perception is the media.   Optimism is defined as ” having hopefulness and confidence about the future or successful outcome of something; a tendency to take a favorable or hopeful view.” Pessimism is the opposite of optimism and is a state of mind that sees everything in a negative light.  The most common known example of optimism v/s pessimism is the age old question “Is the glass half full or half empty?”  Depending on one’s answer, it was decided if one was pessimistic or optimistic.  Obviously, the one who sees the glass as half full is optimistic while the one who sees it as half empty is pessimistic.  But, what about the one who simply sees 4 oz of liquid in a 8 oz glass? That is a realist! While optomists see things in an positive light and pessimists see things in negative light, the mildly discontented grey area in between in fact reflects the most accurate perception of reality.

“Pigs (3 different ones)” is track 3 on the Animals album, a concept album by Pink Floyd based on the fiction novel Animal Farm by George Orwell which tells the tale of farm animals rebelling against humans to form a social system called “animalism”.  In the preface of a 1947  edition of Animal Farm Orwell explained how escaping the communist purges in Spain taught him “how easily totalitarian propaganda can control the opinion of enlightened people in democratic countries.” In that preface Orwell also described what gave him the idea of setting the book on a farm by stating; “I saw a little boy, perhaps ten years old, driving a huge carthorse along a narrow path, whipping it whenever it tried to turn. It struck me that if only such animals became aware of their strength we should have no power over them, and that men exploit animals in much the same way as the rich exploit the proletariat.”

lyrics to “Pigs (3 different ones)”
Big man, pig man
Ha, ha, charade you are
You well heeled big wheel
Ha, ha, charade you are
And when your hand is on your heart
You’re nearly a good laugh
Almost a joker
With your head down in the pig bin
Saying ‘Keep on digging’
Pig stain on your fat chin
What do you hope to find
Down in the pig mine?
You’re nearly a laugh
You’re nearly a laugh
But you’re really a cry

Bus stop rat bag
Ha, ha, charade you are
You fucked up old hag
Ha, ha, charade you are
You radiate cold shafts of broken glass
You’re nearly a good laugh
Almost worth a quick grin
You like the feel of steel
You’re hot stuff with a hatpin
And good fun with a hand gun
You’re nearly a laugh
You’re nearly a laugh
But you’re really a cry

Hey you, Whitehouse
Ha, ha, charade you are
You house proud town mouse
Ha, ha, charade you are
You’re trying to keep our feelings off the street
You’re nearly a real treat
All tight lips and cold feet
And do you feel abused?
You got to stem the evil tide
And keep it all on the inside
Mary you’re nearly a treat
Mary you’re nearly a treat
But you’re really a cry


Thinking outside the bun

11 10 2010

Tom cooked a feast of beef ribs, sautéed with veggies in a golden sauce over rice… with a side of southern style corn and asparagus salad.  Served with a refreshing coca-cola.  It was nice.  We don’t eat many dinners together because of our conflicting schedules.  Now, I can’t quite remember how it came about but I think I was referring to the dogs when I said “Flash always gets the ‘shit end of the stick’ when I throw them scraps of food” (because Jackie is just much faster). Anyway, this spawned a conversation about where the saying “Shit end of the stick” comes from.  I know where I got it from (and she’ll beat me if she reads this, but … ) it was something my mom always said and it stuck with me.   So, over our fine dining we tried to derive where the phrase originated.  We both agreed that it probably stems from olden days when there wasn’t really any sewerage or flushing of toilets as we are so spoiled by today and that probably you had to dispose of shit by somehow shoving it down a hole with a stick …  therefore, occasionally you’d goof up and grab the “shit end of the stick”.  Well, needless to say we were wrong, but it made for fun conversation over fine dining, don’t you think?
Well, much to our disappointment, The proper saying is “Short end of the stick” or “Wrong end of the stick”… even though my mom’s version is much more fun … but here’s what I learned:
This expression refers to a walking stick held upside down, which does not help a walker much. It originated in the 1400s as “worse end of the staff” and changed to the current wording only in the late 1800s. Also see “Short end of the stick”.  The inferior part, the worse side of an unequal deal. For example, ‘Helen got the short end of the stick when she was assigned another week of night duty.’ The precise analogy in this term, first recorded in the 1930s, has been lost. Some believe it comes from worse end of the staff, used since the early 1500s, which in the mid-1800s  became, in some instances, short end of the stick.
-From The American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms_(1997) by Christine Ammer
And, of course, all this fun talk of food and poop reminded me of yet another time these 2 very different objects were intertwined in my life…
In the early 90’s I was struggling financially, but I loved my job and all of the people I worked with. We had been in business for at least four years together and all employees were there from the grand opening and throughout. We were a tight knit family who had grown to know each other very well over the years. The business was growing and we had to make room for new employees. We hired a new guy in the sales office and a couple of guys for the operations department. I chose the guys for operations and both were very good friends of mine, so they fit right in. The new guy in sales, John, was also new to the area. Though he was a stranger, our family extended a warm welcome and strived to have him fit in as well. John was very different, however. He always seemed kind of shady and we all struggled with accepting him, even though we all gave it an honest effort. He was a heavy set man and dressed rather frumpy. His jokes were bad and he was very weak with customer service. Anyway, as I said, this was a time of financial struggle in my life. One of my biggest struggles was the fact that I absolutely loved to fine dine and couldn’t afford to. I loved to feast for breakfast, lunch and dinner … but unfortunately, I couldn’t afford most of my expensive feasts. So, I trained myself to eat a small breakfast, but have a large lunch. Lunch meant more to me than any other meal. I always went all out for lunch. I would have steak lunches with baked potatoes, steamed veggies, bread and salad or something equally as extravagant daily. I decided I would force myself to eat half of my meal at lunch and then take the other half home for dinner. It was working out well, and I was saving money. I had been practicing this concept for a few months before our new associates had joined the team. I would simply place the other half of my meal, stored in to-go boxes, in the break room fridge to retrieve later before going home from a hard day’s work. Not long after we had the new associates join our staff, I started noticing that my to-go boxes were being ravished. It wasn’t a small ravishing either. I would open a box when I got home to find only the fat from the steak trimmed off and left behind with maybe one sprig of broccoli, 1 salad cruton and teeth marks left on my piece of bread and such. This was happening almost daily. I was infuriated by this. I complained several times around the office, making very clear that I did not appreciate someone consistently stealing my food and that I could not afford it as well as it was a very rude thing to do. I went to my boss about it several times and he said I was overreacting, maybe the thief needed the food more than me. I began leaving notes with my lunches that said things like “Please don’t eat this, I can’t afford to feed you and me”, but the culprit would simply move my note aside and eat my food. I suppose the straw that broke the camel’s back (another great saying) was the day I went to my favorite Mexican restaurant and ordered quesadillas. This was one of my favorite things to eat. They come in the shape of a half circle and are stuffed with chicken, cheese, sour cream and all sorts of goodness. I remember my joy of having a full, beautiful and delicious quesadilla saved for my dinner. I thought about it all day long. I really struggled during lunch not to eat the 2nd quesadilla. It weighed heavy on my mind … oh, the melted cheese swirling in rich sour cream, with savory shreds of perfectly seasoned chicken breast … it called my name all afternoon, but I refrained. When 5 o’clock struck, I rushed to the kitchen to snatch up my to-go box. Then I froze, what if someone had eaten it again? What if I was about to get screwed out of my dream dinner? Slowly I opened the box … and there I found … the quesadilla, almost completely eaten. The bastard had eaten it from the straight edge all the way to the round outer edge, leaving me just about a half inch frame work of nothing but fajita dough with disgusting teeth marks all around it. All the cheesy, creamy and chickeny goodness was gone. After blasting a slew of obscenities and storming out of the kitchen with my useless to go box, I threw it on the passenger seat of my car and drove home on fire with a rage and desire for revenge.
I stewed for about one week. I continued to eat lunches for several days and have the remains stolen from me. But, I quit reacting and just took the pitiful boxes of raped left-overs home with me. The fact that I had quit reacting should’ve been a sure sign to take cover, but that gluttonous bastard didn’t catch a clue from it. The following Friday, instead of feasting on a delicious meal, I went to the drive-thru at Taco bell.  I ordered 2 burritos and 2 sides of pinto beans with cheese and sour cream.  I went home and ate one of each, then I took the two extras and began my project.  Carefully I unwrapped the second burrito and unfolded the flour tortilla, scooping out the center of beef and beany goodness and refilling it with several turds from my cat’s litter box … dotted nicely with pebbles of litter.  I re-folded the tortilla and placed the newly designed burrito in a Styrofoam box from my favorite Mexican restaurant.  I then put a small clump of cat pee infested litter beside it and gently scooped the pinto beans on top, keeping the sweet dallop of sour cream on top.  I placed a decorative piece of parsley between the two fancified items and closed the lid.  I returned to the office and put the surprise to-go box in the fridge.  As the day progressed I was overcome with excitement to check the box, but I refrained.  By 4:30, I could no longer resist.  I went to the box, and sure enough, he had eaten more than half of the burrito.  Without a word, I penned a note and stuck it on top of the box that read “I was really looking forward to eating that cat shit burrito, but once again you stole my food.  I hope you enjoyed eating my cat’s shit, asshole!”  He never ate my lunch again.  Ironically, a couple of months later he was caught stealing from the company.  I guess shit eating John couldn’t get enough of his cake and eating it too. (I know, I’m just full of catch phrases this evening!)
And now, just for fun.  If you’ve never tried this, it’s a must.  We made this cake for a friend of ours who is a real cat lover.  It’s kitty litter cake.  Here’s a picture of the cake we made below with the recipe.  Believe it or not, this cake tastes freakin’ awesome and it’s very easy to make.


  • 1 (18.25 ounce) package German chocolate cake mix
  • 1 (18.25 ounce) package white cake mix
  • 2 (3.5 ounce) packages instant vanilla pudding mix
  • 1 (12 ounce) package vanilla sandwich cookies
  • 3 drops green food coloring
  • 1 (12 ounce) package tootsie rolls


  1. Prepare cake mixes and bake according to package directions (any size pan).
  2. Prepare pudding according to package directions and chill until ready to assemble.
  3. Crumble sandwich cookies in small batches in a food processor, scraping often. Set aside all but 1/4 cup. To the 1/4 cup add a few drops of green food coloring and mix.
  4. When cakes are cooled to room temperature, crumble them into a large bowl. Toss with 1/2 of the remaining cookie crumbs, and the chilled pudding. You probably won’t need all of the pudding, you want the cake to be just moist, not soggy.
  5. Line kitty litter box with the kitty litter liner. Put cake mixture into box.
  6. Put half of the unwrapped tootsie rolls in a microwave safe dish and heat until softened. Shape the ends so that they are no longer blunt, and curve the tootsie rolls slightly. Bury tootsie rolls randomly in the cake and sprinkle with half of the remaining cookie crumbs. Sprinkle a small amount of the green colored cookie crumbs lightly over the top.
  7. Heat 3 or 4 of the tootsie rolls in the microwave until almost melted. Scrape them on top of the cake and sprinkle lightly with some of the green cookie crumbs. Heat the remaining tootsie rolls until pliable and shape as before. Spread all but one randomly over top of cake mixture. Sprinkle with any remaining cookie crumbs. Hang the remaining tootsie roll over side of litter box and sprinkle with a few green cookie crumbs. Serve with the pooper scooper.

The forgotten daughter

12 07 2010

For anyone who doesn’t know this, the state of Mississippi was the 20th state admitted to the Union.  The state was named after the Mississippi river which flows along it’s western boundary and has Indian roots in the name stemming from “great river”.  Mississippi’s catfish farms supply the majority of catfish in the USA’s seafood industry, while the state also offers a large supply of all seafood in the industry.  Mississippi is bordered on the North by the state of Tennessee, on the East by Alabama, on the South by Louisiana and a coastline along the Gulf of Mexico and on the West (across the Mississippi River) by Louisiana and Arkansas.  There are 5 major rivers in Mississippi and 4 major lakes.  The coastline includes large bays at the cities Bays St. Louis and Pascagoula.  It is separated from the Gulf of Mexico by the shallow


Mississippi sound and partially sheltered by Petits Bois Island, Horn Island, East & West Ship Islands, Deer Island, Round Island and Cat Island.  I’m telling you all of this because I think many people don’t know Mississippi and it’s time you should.  Mississippi is the forgotten daughter of this nation in my opinion and Mississippi is a beautiful gem somehow kept secret from our brothers and sisters that need to know.  There’s a reason why I’m telling you all of this, so please don’t get bored and stop reading.  It’s important to me, and it should be important to you too … even if you live in a favored state of this nation, Mississippi is still your sister.

While the media does not favor this great state, Mississippi is not what they may lead you to believe.  The media wants to convince you that we haven’t moved forward since the civil war.  That our mindset remains prejudiced,


backward, and ignorant.  They don’t want you to know that great musicians, authors and artists came from this humble state.  They don’t want you to know about the culture and beauty that is overflowing here.  The coast of Mississippi hosts beautiful beaches, classic homes, talented musicians and artists and some of the best fishing any enthusiast could ever ask for.  The coast of Mississippi was the place where Hurricane Katrina actually made landfall 5 years ago this summer.  But, the media overshadowed that fact with reporting of our neighbor and more popular city, New Orleans.  The difference, however, is that New Orleans flooded due to a failure on their local government’s part by ignoring repairs to their levee system that was decades overdue while Mississippi’s coastline faced the brunt of this (the nation’s worst


natural disaster in history).  Mississippi was raped and pillaged and in areas like Bay St. Louis, Waveland, and Lakeshore the damage completely wiped out homes and businesses up to 8 miles inland and widespread destruction so deep inland that even the northernmost cities of the state faced destruction.  But, while the people of Mississippi were ignored by the government, media, and celebrities looking to lend a hand we remained strong and took matters into our own hands.  We are a resilient people who are no strangers to being the forgotten daughter, so we worked hard to do things on our own.  And we were blessed by many volunteer groups who did come to aid our efforts in rebuilding the secret gem that is the Mississippi Gulf Coast.  But once again, despite the fact that this information is important  … this is not what I am here to blog about today.  However, I am here to blog about the fact that we are yet again treated as the red haired step child of this nation and now I’m going to tell you why.



I am a resident of the resilient and beautiful Mississippi Gulf Coast.  I was born and raised here.  This is my home.  I love this place.  Before Hurricane Katrina, the cities of this coast had it all … quaint little shops and pubs lining the beach, fine dining restaurants and entertainment as well as prosperous industries in seafood and tourism.  We have been struggling to rebuild what we lost and we have held fast to our hopes and dreams of recovery.  Today, in the wake of a disaster that heavily overshadows Katrina, many of us are losing our strength, our hope and our dreams and waking up to just how forgotten we truly are here.  Once again, I don’t want to write this as if any reader is living under a rock and doesn’t know the disaster I speak of, but I’m speaking of the BP Deepwater Horizon rig explosion that occurred April 20, 2010 and continues to spew millions of gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico daily. If, by some crazy chance, you don’t know what I’m talking about you can read about it here: .

During the last 3 months we have learned all about the damage to Louisiana’s marshes and seafood industry and Florida’s beaches…etc… We have seen footage of what is and isn’t being done to protect these popular states’ coasts ecologically and economically but we have seen and heard very little about the forgotten sister that is Mississippi.


Though this sentiment has been in my heart since Katrina, yesterday two incidents spawned my desire to write this blog.  First of all, I traveled my local coastline yesterday to see what the BP clean-up efforts were like, what the media was doing and what the people were doing.  What I

BP Clean Up-Waveland, MS 7/10/10

found was disappointing.  I did see some laborers raking the sand and picking up tar patties that washed upon our shorelines and placing them in garbage bags.  The workers were far and few between and absent in many areas.  I waited until they ended their work day before I went out to do my own inspection and what I found was very disturbing.  Oiled litter, tar balls and oiled water was still as far as the eye could see.  Exhausted boom remained desperately needing replacement as oil seeped past it.  It was heartbreaking and painful to see.  I wondered why, but then quickly answered my own question … because the media doesn’t care about Mississippi so the nation doesn’t know that we are being treated this way and the government doesn’t care about the people of this state so our cries will not be heard.  Last night, after a trying day of dealing with this reality, I went out to have a drink.  Much like after Hurricane Katrina, the bar was full of transients who came here to make a buck following yet

Oiled litter post clean up-Waveland, MS 7/10/10

another tragedy.  In other words, laborers for BP here to do clean-up work.  I was seated between men working on Louisiana clean-up to my left and Mississippi clean-up to my right.  They were discussing what their work days consisted of.  The comparisons were mind boggling to a point that I couldn’t hold my tongue.  In Louisiana’s clean-up efforts there are more safety measures, crews, EPA involvement, BP and

Tar balls found post clean up-Lakeshore, MS

Government employees present and more detailed demands.  Louisiana’s clean up focuses on getting the oil out of the water and the marshes as well as getting the tar balls off the coastlines in heavy detail with inspections and safety measures as well as quickly replacing used boom with new boom to continue to protect the delicate marshes and waters of Louisiana.  At the end of the day, all clean-up boats in Louisiana waters must be thoroughly cleaned before returning to their ports as to not carry oil and contaminants inland.  NONE of this is occurring in Mississippi clean-up efforts.  There are less employees working in Mississippi, the EPA & Government are not present, boats are not cleaned and oil and contaminants are carried into our ports daily and Mississippi workers even complained that they feel their efforts are in vain because of the lack of supervision and precaution that are only spreading the oil and contaminants around rather than removing them.  The skimming methods on Mississippi waters are far less professional and hardly working compared to that of Louisiana.  Booms are not being replaced in Mississippi and our marshes are not being protected.  After hearing all I could stand of these comparisons, I blurted out the obvious question “Why?” and received the answer from both sides “Because Louisiana is ecologically and economically more important to the country than Mississippi.”  Ouch.  That hurt.  But, I guess the truth hurts.  And so, I have a few photographs I took yesterday to share this truth with you.  These were all taken within a 5 mile radius of Waveland and Lakeshore, MS , just a small portion of what is going on here that I wanted to share with you because if I don’t care, who will?


Oil Mixed with toxic chemicals seeping past boom in marshland

High tides push oil onto the streets

Without proper protection or prevention, oiled water moves inland

Without proper protection or prevention, toxic soup forms in our marshes

Without proper clean up, toxic soup stagnates roadside

Oiled sand post clean up every 6" or less

an all too familiar sight along our beaches...


deja vous

31 05 2010

Today I offer you  a brief history lesson that will blow your mind.  All information shared here is from  Direct links are provided at the end of the blog.  Click them to read more about these events.
Ixtoc Oil Spill 1979
Ixtoc I was an exploratory oil well being drilled by the semi-submersible platform that we know today as Transocean Ltd.  The location was in the Gulf of Mexico about 62 miles northwest of Ciudad del Carmen, Campeche in waters 160 feet deep.  On June 3, 1979, the well suffered a blowout.  A blowout is the uncontrolled release of crude oil and/or natural gas from an oil well after pressure control systems have failed. At the time of the accident Sedco 135F a.k.a. Transocen was drilling at a depth of about 11,800 ft below the seafloor.   The day before Ixtoc suffered the blowout and resulting fire that caused her to sink, the drill bit hit a region of soft strata soil.   Subsequently, the circulation of drilling mud was lost resulting in a loss of hydrostatic pressure. Rather than returning to the surface, the drilling mud was escaping into fractures that had formed in the rock at the bottom of the hole. PEMEX officials decided to remove the bit, run the drill pipe back into the hole and pump materials down this open-ended drill pipe in an effort to seal off the fractures that were causing the loss of circulation. During the removal of the pipe, the drilling mud suddenly began to flow up towards the surface; by removing the drill-string the well was ‘swabbed’ leading to a ‘kick’ . Normally, this flow can be stopped by activating shear rams contained in the blowout preventer (BOP). These rams are designed to sever and seal off the well on the ocean floor; however in this case drill collars had been brought in line with the BOP and the BOP rams were not able to sever the thick steel walls of the drill collars leading to a catastrophic blowout. The drilling mud was followed by a large quantity of oil and gas at an increasing flow rate. The oil and gas fumes exploded on contact with the operating pump motors, starting a fire which led to the collapse of the Sedco 135F a.k.a. Transocean drilling tower. The collapse caused damage to underlying well structures. The damage to the well structures led to the release of significant quantities of oil into the Gulf of Mexico.
In the initial stages of the spill, an estimated 30,000 barrels of oil per day were flowing from the well. In July 1979, the pumping of mud into the well reduced the flow to 20,000 barrels per day, and early in August the pumping of nearly 100,000 steel, iron, and lead balls into the well reduced the flow to 10,000 barrels per day. PEMEX claimed that half of the released oil burned when it reached the surface, a third of it evaporated, and the rest was contained or dispersed. Mexican authorities also drilled two relief wells into the main well to lower the pressure of the blowout, however the oil continued to flow for three months following the completion of the first relief well. PEMEX contracted Conair Aviation to spray the chemical dispersant Corexit 9527 on the oil. A total of 493 aerial missions were flown, treating 1,100 square miles of oil slick. Dispersants were not used in the U.S. area of the spill because of the dispersant’s inability to treat weathered oil. Eventually the on-scene coordinator (OSC) requested that Mexico stop using dispersants north of 25°N. In Texas, an emphasis was placed on coastal countermeasures protecting the bays and lagoons formed by the Barrier Islands. Impacts of oil to the Barrier Island beaches were ranked as second in importance to protecting inlets to the bays and lagoons. This was done with the placement of skimmers and booms. Ultimately, 71,500 barrels of oil impacted 162 miles of U.S. beaches, and over 10,000 cubic yards of oiled material were removed.  Prevailing currents carried the oil towards the Texas coastline. The US government had two months to prepare booms to protect major inlets. Eventually, in the US, 162 miles of beaches and 1421 birds were affected by 3,000,000 barrels (480,000 m3) of oil. PEMEX spent $100 million to clean up the spill and avoided paying compensation by asserting sovereign immunity.  (Sovereign immunity is the doctrine that the sovereign or state cannot commit a legal wrong and is immune from civil suit.)

Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill 2010
The Deepwater Horizon oil spill, a massive ongoing oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, is now considered the largest offshore spill in U.S. history. The spill stems from a sea floor oil gusher that started with an oil well blowout on April 20, 2010. The blowout caused a catastrophic explosion on the Deepwater Horizons off shore drilling platform  that was situated about 40 miles southeast of the Louisiana  coast in the Manacondo Prospect oil field. The explosion killed 11 platform workers and injured 17 others; another 98 people survived without serious physical injury. (*Note, I could not easily find any information regarding the people involved in the Ixtoc rig explosion.)
The gusher originates from a deepwater oil well 5,000 feet below the ocean surface. Estimates of the amount of oil being discharged range from BP’s current estimate of over 5,000 barrels (210,000 US gallons; 790,000 litres) to as much as 100,000 barrels (4,200,000 US gallons; 16,000,000 litres) of crude oil per day. The exact spill flow rate is uncertain – in part because BP has refused to allow independent scientists to perform accurate measurements – and is a matter of ongoing debate.  Originally, a video of the oil flow filmed underwater on site was leaked into the media generating a media storm of estimates much larger than what BP had been stating.  In addition, the proportion of natural gas in the mixture is not known. The resulting oil slick covers a surface area of at least 2,500 square miles and growing at a rapid pace with the exact size and location of the slick fluctuating from day to day depending on weather conditions. Scientists have also discovered immense underwater plumes of oil not visible from the surface.

The preliminary best estimate that was released on May 27 by the semi-official Flow Rate Technical Group put the volume of oil flowing from the blown-out well at 12,000 to 19,000 barrels (500,000 to 800,000 US gallons; 1,900,000 to 3,000,000 litres) per day, which had amounted to between 440,000 and 700,000 barrels (18,000,000 and 29,000,000 US gallons; 70,000,000 and 111,000,000 litres) as of that date. Experts fear that due to factors such as petroleum toxicity and oxygen depletion, the spill will result in an environmental disaster, damaging the Gulf of Mexico fishing industry,  the Gulf Coast tourism industry, and the habitat of hundreds of bird species. Crews are working to block off bays and estuaries, using anchored barriers, floating containment booms, , and sand-filled barricades along shorelines. There are a variety of ongoing efforts, both short and long term, to contain the leak and stop spilling additional oil into the Gulf.
BP(formerly British Petroleum) is the operator and principal developer of the Macondo Prospect, which was thought to hold as much as 50 million barrels (7.9×10^6 m3) of oil prior to the blowout (by BP’s own estimate). The Deepwater Horizon drilling platform had been leased by BP from its owner, Transocean Ltd. The U.S. Government has named BP as the responsible party in the incident, and officials have said the company will be held accountable for all cleanup costs resulting from the oil spill. BP has accepted responsibility for the oil spill and the cleanup costs, but indicated they were not at fault because the platform was run by Transocean personnel. The Deepwater Horizon blowout is the third serious incident at a BP-operated site in the United States in the last five years. These previous incidents, attributed to lapses in safety and maintenance, have contributed to the damage to BP’s reputation.

So, let’s look at some interesting facts here;
31 years later and we are faced with the same disaster and the same lack of plans.  It’s hard to fathom that no actions were taken in the last 31 years to create a safe back-up plan in the event this should happen again … ESPECIALLY when such deep water drilling was arguably very dangerous and not in the best interest of anyone or anything (except the oil companies, of course).
It’s also hard to realize that this has only just come to light recently.  I mean, I suppose any of us could’ve found this and brought it to light … obviously because someone did recently… but my point is, why wasn’t this talked about more? How did something so big get swept under the rug?
My friend Scott’s response to Maddow’s video (shared above): “That video on the Gulf of Mexico oil spill 31 years ago threw me for a loop.  They have done this before, and then successfully erased it from the mind of the public.  The companies change their names, and soon it is forgotten.  I cannot believe that they have not developed better emergency methods in 31 years.  They have been there before, and the statistics indicate that blowouts are somewhat part of the process from time to time.”
Does anyone find it interesting that, as one solution after another fails, everything just has to point to the most profitable solution for BP? Drilling those relief wells just happens to enable them to continue to retrieve that precious liquid gold, however the process is long and meanwhile the Gulf of Mexico continues to suffer the tragedy via an underwater oil volcano and a soup of toxic dispersants used to hide that oil from YOU.
Will you forget this tragedy too? Will you allow BP or Transocean or any other company involved to move on under a new name and continue to progress in this industry? Will you pressure your government to change things this time, since they’ve been failing for the last 31 years?? Will you ask your government why they aren’t doing more CURRENTLY?
we have to be realistic… don’t get me wrong, we can’t just stop drilling all together and pretend we could survive without oil, but we can begin to move in other directions and transition away from our need for oil.  If we all work together, it wouldn’t be impossible.
See also:
Ixtoc: A case study
Ixtoc: Economic Impact Documents 1980
Infographic breakdown of the current oil disaster
Macando Prospect

The video everyone’s been talking about… hard reporting on facts from 60 minutes.  A must see video that includes an interview with a surviving crew member from the Deepwater Horizon explosion, witnesses, and shocking reveals!  Go here:
“Understanding Fossil Fuel” explains the history of all fossil fuels and their extraction (including oil) as well as looking at energy alternatives

History Lesson on the Rocks with a Twist

30 03 2010

Alcohol is rooted in ancient Egyptian times (BC), as Egyptians used fermented grains for making prototype forms of beer. They created the process when working to refine the production of raised breads by calculating how to add beer sediment to live yeast. I always though that wine would’ve come first, but in fact it was a close second to beer. Wine’s role in history was more ceremonial in it’s earnest beginnings, but later evolved to be used in culinary and celebratory forms. In later years (AC), the Latins perfected the art of distillation by using vaporization of alcohol to produce a higher alcohol level than the naturally ferminted liquid. In Europe, people generated wine for medicinal purposes and as distillation was perfected it was considered the “extraction of the spirit” of the wine which led to the name “spirits” for distillates. Not only medicine, but also the ancient practice of alchemy evolved from the European orgins of distillation. Alchemy is the science of transforming ordinary metals into gold, but in this case people believed alchemy could apply to alcohol by extracting the essential life force from it’s human shell bringing fourth eternal youth. Of course, today we know the truth is that abuse of alcohol brings fourth childish behavior.

In the process of man seeking eternal youth, the distillation of alcohol continued to be perfected and spirits grew in quality. Probably the first spirit to be taken seriously was Brandy (or Congnac) born of the Cognac region of Western France. People noticed that the spirits responded well to being aged in wooden casks and as the process grew in popularity so did the manufacturing of these wooden casks. Soon Irish and Scottish wiskey began to blossom under a different distilling process, as different regions of Europe each accquired their own unique distilling styles. Over time, many countries have tried to duplicate the Scotch Irish distilling process but their results still can not compare. The difference stems from the use of specially designed kilns where malted grain is dried as well as quality spring water used in the mash base. The distilled grain of cereals also produces other spirits such as Kornschnaps, which are sometimes flavored with berries to produce gin or some of the flavored schnaps we know today.

Spirits are also distilled from many fruits, such as grapes, apricots, plums, pears, peaches, berries … etc … True rum is distilled from ferminted sugar cane juice (but more frequently today we use a molasses based version) while true tequila mostly comes from the ferminted juice of the agave cactus. Where a distilled drinks stops being a spirit and becomes a liqueur is a bit hazy. The main difference is that a liqueur drink it must have some obvious aromatizing element. Some liqueurs have as long a history as the Scotch Irish whiskey, but most notably those produced by the old French monastic orders.

The great cocktail era was born in the 1920’s with the advent of the Jazz Age. As I’m sure you all know, a cocktail is a drink consisting of 2 or more ingredients mixed together by shaking, stirring or blending. In the past, all cocktails had a spirit base and the 5 main spirits that provided the base for a true cocktail were vodka, gin, rum, whiskey or brandy. Nowadays, cocktails may include both wine bases and/or non-alcoholic mixed drinks. The term cocktail is said to be derived from the tale of a bartender who poured left over drinks into a large container in the shape of a cockerel and then serve this mixture from the tap at the tail of the container to the hard up customers who could not afford to buy a pure drink, hence “cocktail”. The term cocktail can be traced back to the 19th century, but it’s true orgin is uncertain.

Two years ago, I got laid off from a job with a Fortune 500 Company facing failure.  My security was ripped away.  With the hard times that had fallen on this country, I took to bartending to make ends meet.  The last time I did this I was much younger and used the money to pay for my college education. It wasn’t an easy transition having sat behind a desk doing financial and admin type work for the last 12 years of my life but at the same time I enjoyed it.  The following is a story from a memorable night early in that second wind career in bartending.  I have since gotten back to what I know best, financial work in the building industry. But, I felt this story, as with many from my bartending era, was a keeper.

“Lemonade or Whiskey Double” by Suz November 19, 2008

Yesterday I saw a horrific car accident in which an elderly couple lost their lives.  Throughout the evening I contemplated the value of life and how truly short it is. That night the bar was slow with only a handful of us to chatter over a few drinks in the lull of at Monday night.  The car accident was a big conversation topic because it was front page news already and everyone knew about it.

I watch one regular customer who shuffles in every time I work.  He’s a well known man about town who once had a lucrative business and several assets.  Hurricane Katrina seemed to have stripped him of all of this as well as his will to live.  Each night that passes he drowns his sorrows and relays the same sob story of how he was once on top of the world with a young bride, fancy cars, multiple homes, a yacht and a valuable reputation.  He seeks sympathy for his losses, mostly bragging about scoring a woman half his age because of his wealth and how she is gone from his life like all of his other possessions.  At first, I sympathized with him… while serving him cocktail after cocktail, whiskey doubles none the less.  Then, after repeated subjection to his tales and indecent proposals I had to express to him that I was growing weary and my patience had run thin because it was ultimately clear that all of his suffering was his choice.  It wasn’t the love lost that bothered him so, but the status of having a trophy wife among his trophies that were lost.  Realistically what he had lost was his soul, long before Katrina.  I explained that he should take Katrina as an awakening, sober up and rebuild his life, and expect from life only what he puts into it… as a real person and not a status symbol.  Sadly, I don’t think he listened… he just started going to another bar where the bartender tells me that she suffers the same agony that I did in dealing with him.  Even more sadly, he doesn’t tip.

Life is what you make it.  Sometimes you are ripped from your comfort zone and you have to find yourself all over again.  The people of this whole area are struggling with that issue ever since hurricane Katrina.  Some show resilience and some end up like good old Mr. Used-to-be-all-that previously described.  Myself, I was to just be Little-Miss-Happy-to-be-Alive.

When Weyco closed down last year I was devastated… and jobless.   I thought it was the dream job because I was comfortable and making good money.  I thought I would never find a job a great as that.  When I sought new employment, I looked at dollar signs… and found a job that paid me a whopping $7 more dollars an hour! I couldn’t believe how much money I would be making.  Surely I had found the key to happiness… financial security.  Just a few months later, I was miserable… answering to 3 foreign bosses and 3 American bosses… which was a total of 6 bosses who contradicted each other and had zero business knowledge.  I managed purchasing, something I had done basically for 6 prior years and sadly, something none of my 6 bosses knew a damn thing about.  Every right move I made was criticized, every instruction I followed was discredited by at least half of my bosses (the half that didn’t instruct), every duty I had to do… I had to do in triplicate, in 3 or more different ways to reach the same result time and time again until everyone was satisfied.  At 6 months, I would wake up dreading my day and usually come home only to feel drained and go to bed early just so I didn’t have to think any more.  As time passed, I often found myself crying through my lunch break because I knew I had to return the office.  Still, some demon inside me said “Press on, you’ll never make this much money again”… but my soul was suffering.  I found myself unable to smile, unable to enjoy my loved ones, even unable to enjoy my dogs.  Launching out at everyone close to me and ultimately depressed and angry at the world.  Then one Friday, as I cried through my lunch, I realized… I didn’t have to live that way.  I wanted my life back.  So I did return to the office, just long enough to pen my letter of resignation and make my exit.  I took back the value of my life! I was free again.

As time passed, I shuffled into the Third Base Bar & Grill and before I finished uttering out  “I need a job…” the owner excitedly said “You’re hired!”.  I was blessed… we were blessed! They needed me as much as I needed them.  The bar had been struggling since Katrina and lost it’s good clientele, suffered an unsavory clientele and had to shut down.  They had just re-opened and were working toward a new success and needed a fresh and friendly face to assist them in their rebuilding process.  For us, it was all about being in the right place at the right time.  It seemed like overnight the bar turned around as I built up a great clientele and the income tripled during my shifts.  I really felt a part of something good as I watched the success of the bar turn around and relished in how grateful and supportive my new bosses were.  My ideas were welcomed and not a day passed that I didn’t get a pat on the back and a “thank you” for a job well done.  Though I was the fresh face there, it was them who gave me the gift of a fresh face for myself.  Outside the fact of earning good cash money and being a part of a successful venture, I received something even more valuable from the job… a new and improved life.  You see, since Katrina I have lost interest in meeting new people or social activity because I was disappointed in my surroundings as a whole.  Bartending pulled me back out of my social shell and gave me back the old Susan.  Once again I was a part of a social scene, making new friends and finding something to smile about… enjoying laughter again on a regular basis… hugging friends new and old… dancing out loud… being myself.

My life has dealt me many bad hands, but I have never lost my ability to prevail.  I just seem to keep turning lemons into lemonade… and the day I lose that ability is the day I will no longer know the value of life.   I pray that day will never come, and I pray that you all can also know the value of your life… it’s short, so when life hands you lemons make lemonade instead of drowning in whiskey doubles and contemplating what could have been… you never know when you may be handed your last glass.