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Belmont Club

The Death of the Phone Call

September 27th, 2013 - 2:22 pm

The radio and the telephone and the movies that we know
May just be passing fancies and in time may go.

The movies sure, the radio sure, but the …telephone? Andrea Peterson of the Washington Post notes with some surprise that president Obama’s favorite comms platform, the Blackberry, was literally dying. The parent company laid off nearly half its workforce only last week. “That’s bad news for the platform’s most prominent user, Barack Obama.” Not so long ago it was the symbol of wired power.

Obama’s BlackBerry dependency was touted as a sign of modernity before his 2009 inauguration, to the point where it was a news story that he was allowed to keep the device post-inauguration. But technology that seemed cutting-edge in 2008 now seems painfully anachronistic. Obama was reportedly “befuddled” during an attempt to call a volunteer from an iPhone during the 2012 campaign.

But the phone call has been dying too. Most people now communicate by text or other types of messaging. In fact less than half of all Britons surveyed made a single call a day. By comparison young Americans send 88 text messages a day, a trend that if anything, is growing with each passing day.

Dana Brownlee, a corporate trainer based in Atlanta, says the issue of phone aversion frequently comes up in her project management training sessions. One of her clients, a manager at a large utility company, recently had to teach his young employee what a dial tone was and explain that desktop phones don’t require you to press “Send.”

But if the practice of “ringing people up” is falling prey to the changing habits of the young, it is withering among the politically powerful for a different reason. It is declining because of the increasing difficulty of sealing a deal by achieving agreement within a small circle. The conference call — the successor of the smoke filled room of the 19th century — can’t cut it any more. The accusation that Ted Cruz has killed the dialog between the political parties with his incendiary attack on Obamacare obscures the fact that the telephone deal has been declining for a long time in this age of diminished consensus.

In a simpler time not long ago a President simply needed to make calls to the right people to make things happen. He’d call the Prime Minister of Great Britain or the President of Egypt. The very ancient will even remember something called a Hot Line with which the White House could call the leader of the Soviet Union in case the boys got out of hand. That’s how things got fixed.

With the decline in consensus those types of calls are increasingly pointless. What the New York Times called the diminished President finds less and less scope for doing business by simply phoning foreign leaders. For one they let the telephone keep ringing. The President of Syria — if so grand a title can be used to describe so meager a man — has openly mocked him, and asked for a billion dollars into the bargain to put away his chemical weapons arsenal, should the President of Syria feel like it after taking the money. The President of Iran actually declined to shake Obama’s hand in New York. Hillary Clinton was left cooling her heels in China when she was Secretary of State. John Kerry has fared little better; he spent days waiting for the Soviet Foreign minister to answer his entreaties. No, the phone ain’t what it used to be.

So if Cruz isn’t taking calls any more who else is? President Obama himself resorted to the extraordinary measure of sending a “penpal” letter to Iran via Sultan Qaboos, not because the telephone between Washington and Teheran doesn’t work any more but because they wouldn’t take his call. What’s changed is the nodes not the edges.  The most important component in a communications system isn’t the existence of the channel but the existence of the source and the sender. And the word we use for the existence of political endpoints is ‘legitimacy’. People have to be worth calling to call or take calls from.

The demise of the political phone call tracks the demise of consensus, the instrument of personal intimacy has lost its efficacy in direct proportion to its fading power to produce an enforceable deal.

Who people listen to is established by common assent. People obey the laws, stop even at red lights in the middle of a deserted suburb at midnight from assent and not because a policeman is near. The president used to be powerful because we used to listen to him.

Consensus determines who you take a call from. People file taxes and follow laws not because they’ve gotten letters or phone calls from just anybody, but because they’ve received them from people whose importance they acknowledge. Once they stop acknowledging then they don’t pick up the phone any more.  Then the only alternative method of enforcement once assent is withdrawn is to assign a policeman to each citizen to compel compliance, a method which if effective is ruinously expensive.

The international consensus also operated on perceived legitimacy. Once upon a time a phone call from the White House threatening to send an aircraft carrier battlegroup was as effective as sending the vessels themselves. When the President wanted to lobby congress, he just called certain key representatives and they got things done. In this atmosphere, business could be done using what Victor Davis Hanson described as the Voice of Saruman system, in councils where ordinary folk stood aside open-mouthed while the Great decided their fate in terms beyond the capacity of mere mortals to comprehend.  The chieftains could freely talk among themselves “of oil blackmail, trade threats”, weighty matters in which children were not supposed to meddle, for nobility had its own reasons and prerogatives.

The phone worked in the world of “Dave” and “Vladimir or “Angela”. It was the medium of intimacy. The unguarded statement, the inside joke.  The great could even make fun of Ted Cruz among  themselves — off the record of course.  It was the prerogative of the Great.  George Bush was perhaps among the first chief executives to suspect the coming conflict between the old Voice of Saruman system and the Information Age. He was told by lawyers to stop using email because it put everything on the record.

President George W. Bush was reportedly a regular e-mail user before taking office, but sent his online friends a digital farewell note shortly before his inauguration. “My lawyers tell me that all correspondence by e-mail is subject to open record requests,” he reportedly wrote in an e-mail on Jan. 18, 2001. “Since I do not want my private conversations looked at by those out to embarrass, the only course of action is not to correspond in cyberspace. This saddens me. I have enjoyed conversing with each of you.”

Bush didn’t connect the dots quite yet, though he could at least still make phone calls back in the day, as Barack Obama used to do in his first term. But in reality that era was already ending. The significance of Ted Cruz’s lese majeste was that he cheapened all the special private numbers the players used to closely guard. Cruz’s refusal to pick up the phone diminished the instrument for the RINOs too. That’s why they hate him so much; they’re not worth calling any more. For what’s the use of calling John McCain if he can’t deliver Ted Cruz?

The political phone call won’t come back until consensus is restored.  What all this talk about “civil war” and “incivility” amounts to is that for the moment the consensus has been suspended.

At least the British understood that Cameron was humiliated when he couldn’t bring over Parliament. It took the leaders of the GOP a little more time to realize that obvious fact also applied to them.  Cruz simply hammered the last nail into the coffin Barack Obama himself built in trying to make a play for the health system. He thought he could live without consensus, by diktat, through the bully pulpit. That his Blackberry would rule no matter what. But from that point onward there was really nothing to talk about, and if the Senator from Texas didn’t say it openly it was only a matter of time before somebody else did. The consensus, like the voice call, has been declining for quite some time. We are just noticing it now, entering the period when everything has to be done the hard way. It is no longer possible to make things happen by just picking up the phone and dropping in a dime.

Operator
Oh, could you help me place this call?
You see the number on the matchbook
Is old and faded.

Operator
Oh, let’s forget about this call
There’s no one there I really wanted to talk to
Thank you for your time
Oh, you’ve been so much more than kind
You can keep the dime.


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Top Rated Comments   
I take wretchard's post not to be about the death of of the use of the telephone but to be really about the death of civil and representative negotiations between our political factions in Washington.

The prime example of course is the refusal of our president donkey sh*t Obama to reasonably discuss a variety of issues starting with Obamacare in an effort to reach a consensus that reflects the will of the
people.

Instead he, nancy, Harry, Hilary and the mainstream press prefer alinskyite character assignation or worse - see buddy's post - to cower and intimidate the opposition into submission.

For their part, the institutional pubs have been all too eager to submit without a true fight almost across the board.

The behavior of both parties working in concert ( which they apparently are) are a dead bang recipe for a heinous dictatorship where any one foolish enough to dissent, or engage in any contentious free speech , is hounded, tracked down and beaten into submission mercilously.

Buraq Hussein has put the Gestapo like apparatus in place already, with the assent of the institutional pubs. The slow agonizing grinding down of our freedoms has already begun. Obamacare will be the Great Leap Forward into passive submission ( or else!).

Buddy's post about the neutering of our nuclear deterrent force is just one prong in a multi-pronged effort wreak havoc and lay the west's defenses.

This week, right on cue, ( the talking points must have been sent out) you can the media beginning to parrot iran's nuclear narrative that Iran only wants peaceful uses for it's decidedly unpeaceful nuclear ambitions. We hear how the ayatollah has issued a fatwa so Iran would never their nuclear weapons ( until they do ) .

This is all just the beginning of a well coordinated campaign for buraq to submit to iran's and islam's nuclear intentions. It will be for "world peace" after all.

I was hoping that Israel would strike to wreck Iran 's ambitions.

But apparently, this is not to be.

Caroline glick in her latest post on her blog basically says that the Israeli leadership long ago came to the realization that an American president could crush Israeli if he felt crossed.

So. Buraq hussein's peace initiative really ,if you think about it, is a political pre-emptive first strike against Israel taking out iran's nukes. Normal politicians would not dare hitting Iran while buraq was negotiating with them. Here 's to netanyahu being better and better than normal. It may be our only chance.
50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
The problem is not the death of the telephone, but rather the end of the conversation that needs it. Twitter and texting is all the rage in a society of illiterates without the education and self-awareness to express more than a yell, like members of a street mob screaming superficialities and slogans. All together now: "Hope and Change!" "Death to America!"

Screw rational thought! Gimme my Obamaphone!
50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
"a Hot Line with which the White House could call the leader of the Soviet Union in case the boys got out of hand."

"Hello Dmitry? .... Da."
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6T2uBeiNXAo

If Sen. McCain or others used to ruling by the telephone feel diminished by Sen. Cruz they should remember the great all purpose question to ask any adolescent in a moment of drama, "Who owns this problem?" Status in the Inner Circle of phone callers, the Namenkultura, the Rolodex Elite, the Circle Jerks, is not an a priori given. No one died and made members of a given list the rulers empowered to speak for Ted Cruz or anyone else. That is not to say that simple efficiency does not demand that some people be able to deliver the support of a group, and get rewarded for that attribute. That is why we have a Republic. The citizens of Arizona get Sen. McCain to act on their behalf and in a negotiation he gets to deliver their constitutionally delegated legitimacy. As a leader of the Republican Party Sen. McCain wishes to speak with the stature of not only his own authority but Sen. Cruz's bundled in. That is not inherently a bad thing. What is missing is what must be done to achieve the right to so speak. Sen. McCain had to get elected before he could speak on behalf of the people of Arizona. He had to earn their support. He has to earn the support of Sen. Cruz.

Who owes who what here? What does Sen. McCain and others owe to Sen. Cruz and what does he owe to them? What do they all owe to the true source of legitimacy, the citizens?

The importance of text records has been known for along time. Oliver North proved more adept than Admiral Poindexter at erasing records in the old Prof system. Democratic operatives have repeatedly broken the rules and probably the law by conducting official business using private email accounts to evade tracking.

Young people lack the skill to conduct a normal conversation. They cannot even function in an academic seminar. The ability to listen formulate an answer that addresses points, considers evidence, and invites further communication, is an art. It includes engaging with and acknowledging other human beings. Texting does not do that. It transmits bullet points that close rather than open discussion.

I have seen young people text each other when standing in the same room. Trying to get them to talk is embarrassingly painful. The people who text, how can they gain the skills to really read a book, write a letter, hold a conversation, or do productive collaborative research? Without those skills, cognitive and social, even the most credentialed citizen becomes ripe fodder for exploitation by message manipulators. The Democrats know this and use it.
50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (68)
All Comments   (68)
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Actions speak louder than words...

From my blog

http://machiasprivateer.blogspot.com/2011_01_01_archive.html

"IRAQI-SET OIL BLAZE QUELLED BY TEXANS
--------------------------------------------------
Chicago Tribune-April 8, 1991
Author: Associated Press.

A Texas firefighting team on Sunday extinguished the first of 500 oil-well fires set by Iraqi troops, and declared a ``small victory`` that could mark a turning point in the operation. The team from Houston-based Boots & Coots, using liquid nitrogen and water, extinguished a small fire on its second attempt Sunday morning.

``I think it`s very important,`` Boots Hansen said of his team`s achievement. He said the method-injecting nitrogen into the fire through a large cylinder attached to a giant bulldozer while spraying water at the base of the cylinder-was less time-consuming than other methods, such as the use of dynamite.

``It`s a small victory,`` said Larry Flak, a Houston oil engineer coordinating the entire firefighting effort. ``Now we can go from well to well to well without a lot of rigging up or preparation.`` Sunday`s operation was experimental. After the initial success, the team re-lit the oil spewing from the well a few more times, and again put the fire out to refine their techniques. Eight days earlier, Boots & Coots failed in an attempt to put out a blaze using only water. Hansen estimated that the nitrogen method, which deprives the fire of needed oxygen, probably could be used on half the fires set by Iraq in late February, before allied troops liberated Kuwait. Flak said the Iraqis blew up about 600 oil wells in Kuwait. Most have been on fire since then, blackening the sky across vast areas of the emirate, while about 80 wells were spewing oil without burning. More than 20 of those wells have been capped. Kuwaiti officials estimate they are losing 6 million barrels of oil a day, worth more than $100 million. Fighting the fires will cost an additional $1 million to $2 million a day. Oil Minister Rasheed al-Amiri says it could take two or more years to quell the fires"

There is the press account of the first success of the venturi tube (AKA "a large cylinder attached to a giant bulldozer").

BC'ers have seen the video. http://youtu.be/whxPMsArp64?t=5m10s

The sky was blackened by an oily cloud over 1000 miles long. Then it cleared.

That's engineering.

50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
I think that the difference now isn't a lack of consensus, it's a lack of trust, and that falls right on the shoulders of Barack Obama. Why would you make a phone call to someone you don't trust? How can you make nuanced negotations with someone who doesn't keep his word? Obama's culture of lies has spread -- first through the Democratic Party and now through the old-guard Republican Party. We now have an entire political culture where the truth doesn't matter. You can say anything with no consequence. As a result, no one trusts anyone else. The movement towards politicians like Cruz and Paul is as much a yearning for personal integrity in elected officials as anything else. Character matters, and there are probably the smallest number of people of good character in Washington as ever in the history of the Republic.
50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
I take wretchard's post not to be about the death of of the use of the telephone but to be really about the death of civil and representative negotiations between our political factions in Washington.

The prime example of course is the refusal of our president donkey sh*t Obama to reasonably discuss a variety of issues starting with Obamacare in an effort to reach a consensus that reflects the will of the
people.

Instead he, nancy, Harry, Hilary and the mainstream press prefer alinskyite character assignation or worse - see buddy's post - to cower and intimidate the opposition into submission.

For their part, the institutional pubs have been all too eager to submit without a true fight almost across the board.

The behavior of both parties working in concert ( which they apparently are) are a dead bang recipe for a heinous dictatorship where any one foolish enough to dissent, or engage in any contentious free speech , is hounded, tracked down and beaten into submission mercilously.

Buraq Hussein has put the Gestapo like apparatus in place already, with the assent of the institutional pubs. The slow agonizing grinding down of our freedoms has already begun. Obamacare will be the Great Leap Forward into passive submission ( or else!).

Buddy's post about the neutering of our nuclear deterrent force is just one prong in a multi-pronged effort wreak havoc and lay the west's defenses.

This week, right on cue, ( the talking points must have been sent out) you can the media beginning to parrot iran's nuclear narrative that Iran only wants peaceful uses for it's decidedly unpeaceful nuclear ambitions. We hear how the ayatollah has issued a fatwa so Iran would never their nuclear weapons ( until they do ) .

This is all just the beginning of a well coordinated campaign for buraq to submit to iran's and islam's nuclear intentions. It will be for "world peace" after all.

I was hoping that Israel would strike to wreck Iran 's ambitions.

But apparently, this is not to be.

Caroline glick in her latest post on her blog basically says that the Israeli leadership long ago came to the realization that an American president could crush Israeli if he felt crossed.

So. Buraq hussein's peace initiative really ,if you think about it, is a political pre-emptive first strike against Israel taking out iran's nukes. Normal politicians would not dare hitting Iran while buraq was negotiating with them. Here 's to netanyahu being better and better than normal. It may be our only chance.
50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
I hope folks will click the 'show more' and be sure and catch your last couple three paras. Esp about how the 'breakthru' is so palpably an extension of cover for Iran against the existential interests of Israel. I never in my wildest nightmare could have visualized this ever happening.

Geraldo Rivera was on tonight saying that 'we ought to give Iran a chance --maybe things have actually changed'

Sure, maybe they have --but no one in their right mind would risk a significant bet on it. For one thing, after this long arduous road of agonizing over the problem, this sudden flip was just way too easy. There's a missing middle screaming out 'where am I?" To promise someone you won't let 'em drown, then you do let 'em drown, is not much different than drowning them with your own hands.

I can't see the two miliraries, with all the long connections and cooperations, allowing this treachery to proceed much farther. Gird your hatches, and batten down the loins --
50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
Retch? None of this matters. What matters is getting & staying connected
YMMV ( your mileage may vary....
Void, where prohibited by Duh! Law....)
50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2436621/Second-command-countrys-nuclear-arsenal-suspended-investigated-GAMBLING.html

This is not off-thread. It makes everything else off-thread. This could be the move. Make your arrangements. Chinese and Russians war-gaming, and obama may be switching off our retaliatory circuits. He's been purging brass for a long time on weak soup charges that look like set-ups --and Hagel was brought in because he's for nuclear disarmament and he's never indicated he realizes the other guy has nukes too. Plus he can't read.

Gambling charges my happy ass.
50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
PS, the 2007 incident at Minot

http://tiny.cc/3t443w

was the pretext for the creation, in 2009-11, of an entirely new command structure on top of the tried n true Strategic Command structure. This, under obama i stress, is the 'Global Strike Command' and is a unification of the previous commands into a single central office.

Search 'global strike command' --also search 'military purge' --with the NSA revelations in mind. From the 'incident' search:

http://projectcamelot.org/jack_carter.html

===

ok --done --sorry for the o/t. This stuff just gimme the willies is all.
50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
PPS, one last thing, our National Security Advisor is SUSAN RICE. Last seen around the WH, according to 'Michelle's Mirror' serious/comic blog, at the closed-door Bisexual Visibility conference a couple days ago --in the WH.

Maybe next they'll have an Invisibility conference, and we can see who's attending, there, at the conference, in the White House.

I sent a suggestion they hold a Doing It With Exotic Dancers conference, but haven't heard back ass of yet.

Ah, the country's in the best of glands --i mean, hands.
50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
“The radio and the telephone and the movies that we know
May just be passing fancies and in time may go.”

The movies are might be at risk. Hollywood has inflated itself so that a simple love story cannot be told with multimillion dollar special effects and Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. Apparently nobody else can draw box office. The radio on the other hand is being propped up by conservative talk radio, sports, and Spanish language programming. It turns out that the people who have been chosen to replace us do not fancy using the computer. But replace us they will because when the likes of John McCain and Marco Rubio hear such words as ‘The meek SHALL inherit the earth’, they take it as a legal requirement while ignoring things like coveting your middle classes wages, ostensibly to pave over your irresponsible spending of the SSI fund. I have come to believe that this whole ACA debacle has come down to a money grab, one more cup to hide the pea under for a government that has lost its ability to balance its check book.

Phones on the other hand are already evolving from land lines as we know it. I was unable to reach an important vendor by email because their server crashed over the weekend so I was pretty ticked off and meant to call them and complain about it but the VOIP phone on my desk failed because our server too was down. I fret when I am filling out forms requiring my “home” phone or worse a copy of my phone bill. People used to have home phones that were a credible way to shag you down, now with ‘disposable’ cell phones not so much. Home is becoming less certain as well. I went from a house to an apartment, to a boat to a couch and now onto a trailer. I expect in the coming year of outfitting an RV and staying on that between staying on a boat, work, and a private office. Life during interesting times.

We are slaves to our electronic networks to communicate and I wonder how long until a nation puts a swath of 17,000 mile per hour tungsten BB’s in counter orbit along our satellites paths. So called terrorism teaches us that it is much easier to destroy infrastructure than it is to build it. When the rest of the world starts treating calls from the USA like a telemarketer then the phones will not be answered.

It is little wonder that our enemies harken back to more primitive states of nature. When the EM pulse comes the shepherd does not awaken nor is he vexed in the morning. In time, all networks will be smashed as entropy predicts and fire talkers exhort the blackened tea pot with pointed finger; Anarchists! Whilst remaking everything that was into a bigger version of their own contorted mind. Those who built by their own sweat something great for the ages never knelt at the feet of an avenging spirit but only sought to preserve their own. No network will survive long this Golem that receives its orders from those who govern by hate and a will for retribution. The only unbroken network now is between good and god and there shall arise an army of one whose network will never be broken. Whose hope will takes its rightful seat on a shining city on a hill and whose children will learn again to appreciate the gifts that stand the test of time.
50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
The problem is not the death of the telephone, but rather the end of the conversation that needs it. Twitter and texting is all the rage in a society of illiterates without the education and self-awareness to express more than a yell, like members of a street mob screaming superficialities and slogans. All together now: "Hope and Change!" "Death to America!"

Screw rational thought! Gimme my Obamaphone!
50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
Instead of drawing our rules from the pool of lawyers and activists, we should forbid elective office to lawyers, and draw our rules from engineers and scientists.
50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
Agreed. But extend the ineligibility to banksters (and anyone who has ever been one) and other financial "professionals" and also accountants.
50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
Engineers and scientists are pretty good at the how to do stuff part of governing, but the what to do is another matter; most of them are a mile deep but an inch wide. Unfortunately, that is becoming more the case with lawyers as well. Once a lawyer had pretty good life experience with study of the law added on top of it, then it evolved that he would have a pretty good liberal arts education with law school added on top of it. Now, he has the same two years of general education at what was the high school level a generation ago and then two years of undergraduate law course followed by law school. In the last decade of my career most of my young lawyers were pretty good at researching and writing a legal memo, albeit a deadly dull one, but were cultural and historical illiterates unless you consider beer, movies, and sports to be culture.

The problem with lawyers as government managers or elected officials is that a lawyer who has actually been an advocate, and not all of them have, has to believe he can win anything, so once they've decided to do something, they'll ride that idea right over a cliff. Once they've decided that the government should do something, they run the government right over a cliff.

In my observation, the biggest problem with government is that most of the people in government have never done anything but be in government. Both my State's US Senators come from government families and neither has ever done anything that didn't involve government or working for government. Almost no Democrats in government at any leve have any life experience outside government, academia, or Democrat front interest groups. Most Republicans have done something other than work for government and there are very few Republican interest groups and even fewer Republican academics. That makes Republicans much more realistic, but it also is a disadvantage in that Democrats are MUCH better with the switches and levers of government than Republicans. The biggest disadvantage a Republican officeholder has is that he was likely shown to his office by a Democrat.
50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
Art, I think you miss one of the big points about democratic (small d) government and politicians, that they are both exercises in consensus and negotiation. A politician seeks consensus to get elected. A politician represents his constituents, but not to the exclusion of other politicians' constituents - at least not if they are to be seen as leaders at the national level, as of course few ever are. Some lawyers excel at splitting the difference, and our adverserial court system often tends in that direction, too. But the "advocate" part of law practice has little place in politics, at least national politics though perhaps rather more in international politics.

And then there's Obambus who Won't Negotiate, who doesn't schmooze, whose number one strategy is to delegitimize his opponents, and his number two strategy is to insult their intentions and integrity (which is, after all, nearly indistinguishable from number one).

Scientists are not trained to reach consensus, but truth. That very nearly disqualifies them from political games. The only good thing is that it may train them into modesty, into not claiming knowledge that they lack, that nobody has, that nobody could or should have. But not all scientists come out that way, like any people some think whatever tool they are good at must be the way to solve all problems.
50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
"Scientists are not trained to reach consensus, but truth. That very nearly disqualifies them from political games."

I think that this is one of the reasons why the left has continued to double down on global warming in the face of the evidence. The global warming movement isn't designed to produce good science. It's designed to produce a particular sort of scientist -- one who places politics over the truth. Those scientists who show their willingness to put politics over the truth are financially rewarded and brought into the government. You see it in the EPA in particular. Also in academia. There are two types of scientists today; those willing to join the "scientific consensus" and become wealthy and respected, and those smeared as "deniers" and ignorant wack jobs because they insist on putting truth over politics.
50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
Since I've negotiated labor agreements ranging from minor individual matters to billion dollar large unit agreements and carried the chit sheet for bills in a legislature, I think I know a bit about both consensus and negotiation. That said, I think the place for consensus and negotiations is in building your own side's position. Once you have your position and either the power or the votes to impose it, you don't negotiate, at least not any more than the law makes you. In that sense, I think a lot like Comrade Obama, but then I'm used to dealing with public employee unions that use the same toolkit that community organizers use and I, too, read Saul Alinsky a long, long time ago and my copy of "Rules" is pretty heavily marked up. In dealing with the opposing side, I only negotiate when and only as much as he can make me.

I've worked with and for a lot of lawyers and supervised a staff that in my last several years was mostly lawyers. Some have never done anything but do research and write memos and pleadings, some have been advocates, and some have been deal makers. Only the latter has decent skills coming into the game as a policy maker, though any of them can learn the skills if they will admit they need to learn. But then a real estate broker or a car salesman has pretty good dealmaking skills too. The hard part in government is knowing what deal you want to make.
50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
Something about the art of the possible.

That's the argument (er, cliche) the RINOs are citing now re Obamacare. What they don't realize is that Things Are Different this time. You're never supposed to say Things Are Different, but that's just part of why and how Things ARE Different now.
50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
Be careful what you wish for, AGW is a figment of the imagination of "scientists".

If we had let them run wild, you would be living in a Cap & Trade world, with government controlling the energy sector, just like they control the health sector through ObamaCare.

Engineers live in The Real World. Lots of "scientists" deal in SciFi.
50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
Scientists are human beings like everyone else. I suspect the main driver behind AGW was group think coupled with the relative ease of funding for proposals advancing the notion of AGW versus sceptical proposals.

The classic example that I'm familiar with is Mars exploration (I'm an aeronautical engineer). The notion that there is extant life on the Martian surface was more or less refuted by results from the two Viking spacecraft that landed on Mars in 1976, However some clever guys at NASA were able to attract new funding for Mars exploration by reselling the idea that there is life on Mars. The Mars Science Lab (MSL) spacecraft that is currently on Mars cost about $2.8 billion and was intended to search for life on Mars. Of course, it has not found any. MSL can't even find complex organic material (the perchlorate oxidants in the Martian regolith tend to break down organic material). I should add that there was evidence from the Viking spacecraft that oxidants like perchlorates were in the Martian regolith.

How did this happen that $2.8 billion was spent on a spacecraft to look for something that most experts knew did not exist? The answer is both trivial and embarrassing. Looking for "life on Mars" is sexy and entertaining to the general public while simply doing geological exploration is boring. Exploration proposals offering to do the boring stuff were dead-on-arrival. The people on the inside justified this process because they knew that legitimate geological science could still be done by MSL in the name of searching for life. I might add that MSL has been wildly successful as a scientific probe. MSL recently discovered that there is significant amounts of water chemically bound in the Martian regolith. Coming up with water for a Martian colony is almost trivial, i.e. put the regolith in a retort, cook it and condense out the water that boils off. MSL is a good thing. Unfortunately, MSL would never have been funded if NASA had tried to sell it as a straight science project.
50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
Even if we accept that MSL is "wildly successful as a scientific probe", that does not translate into the immediate, tangible world. Engineering is tangible. It works or it doesn't. As Richard Feynmann put it Appendix F
http://science.ksc.nasa.gov/shuttle/missions/51-l/docs/rogers-commission/Appendix-F.txt

For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over
public relations, for nature cannot be fooled.

50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
Richard Feynman did an excellent job of embarrassing NASA over the 51-L (Challenger) disaster. A good engineer always respects the Laws of Physics and takes them into account when producing a new design. The managers who caused the 51-L accident were not really engineers but actually bean counters and low level bureaucrats meeting a dead line. There were plenty of honest engineers who were ringing alarm bells over safety issues but they were ignored.

Engineering is certainly tangible. The discovery by MSL of easily accessible water on Mars is a very tangible result. As an engineer, I can now design technology where a Mars colonist can produce water anywhere on Mars.

Before we can design a Mars colony there are many boxes that need to be checked. Coming up with water is one box that was just checked. Dealing with secondary cosmic radiation is another box that can be checked. Coming up with an in-situ energy source is a box that remains unchecked. IMHO, we need to discover a thorium or uranium ore deposit on Mars or crack the nuclear fusion problem before we can check that last box.
50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
hey fEgg, especially if there's still water in the regolith it remains an interesting question if there was ever life on Mars and still might be in pockets or even if we could seed it there ourselves. I don't think the NASA probe was sold in that unlikely a way.
50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
The guys doing the "selling" concerning life on Mars will privately admit that surface life is impossible due to the peroxides and secondary cosmic radiation. However they then claim that extant life is possible deep under the Martian surface where liquid water could be stable and secondary cosmic radiation shielded against. This is called "deep dark life". The claim that there is deep dark life on Mars is indeed tenable but technologically difficult to prove. The advocates of searching for life on Mars then proceed to argue that we should look for life on the Martian surface because that's all we can do. This is a form of observational bias called the "streetlight effect" (google it). This fallacious argument is the main justification for Martian exploration.

I'm happy that we are exploring Mars because we are learning useful stuff in terms of human colonization and it keeps me employed. Unfortunately the search-for-life arguments justifying the process are fallacious.
50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
The genius in the eliptical cubicle probably got the Iranian's attention by offering as a freebie some vast treasure or advantage which we the people will eventually very much regret losing.

Recall that the Cuban missile Crisis of October 1962 was defused by our Bold President JFK secretly conceding to Soviet Premier Kruschev that the USA would dismantle and remove ballistic missiles from a number of bases located just a few kilometers outside the Soviet Border. I'm not even arguing that it was a bad thing for Kennedy to have done... But it was a concession that would have profoundly embarrassed him - possibly enough to provoke impeachment by his domestic opponents - had it been made public at the time.

But, really, who would take our bumbler-in-chief seriously, after climbing to power in a culture of commonplace assassination and disappearance, beheadings and torture in the name of orthodoxy? Even if we concede that Windy City politics include the odd murder here and there, the garden-variety fatwa-driven jihadist would likely enjoy a number of tactical advantages over the thugs of the Chicago-Springfield axis.
50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
Wretchard said "The political phone call won’t come back until consensus is restored. What all this talk about “civil war” and “incivility” amounts to is that for the moment the consensus has been suspended."

From his lips to God's ear...

http://www.nola.com/news/gulf-oil-spill/index.ssf/2013/09/mondays_second_phase_of_bp_tri.html#incart_river

Transocean and Halliburton agree with PSC witnesses that if BP hadn't misled the government, the capping stack would have been used first, and the flow of oil would have been shut off as early as May.

What? The Great and Wonderful Wizard of Obama told us on May 27, 2010 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DoQhH9srELA

"My job right is just to make sure everybody in the Gulf understands this is what I wake up to in the morning, and this is what I go to bed at night thinking about...the spill. And it's not just me by the way. When I woke up this morning, and I'm shaving, and Malia knocks on my bathroom door and she peeks in her head and she says "Did you plug the hole yet Daddy?"

Out of the mouths of babes!

Here's a question for the White House press corps, "Why wasn't the BP spill stopped in May?"

CHU LIED, DOPLPHINS DIED!

FREE KURT MIX!
50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
http://article.wn.com/view/2010/05/23/Officials_Back_to_Gulf_as_Frustration_on_Spill_Spreads/#/video

14 videos here at the moment. Start with #14, it's short. The first one is a long documentary named "The Big Fix" --got a lot of promo awhile back --see web.

MP, these vids --i just found this site this morniong, due to your comment --are just a part of this story.

I've followed it closely --i worked my way thru school roughnecking on those rigs, then went back to them as a drilling fluid tech for many years. Family is mostly in SW Louisian and touched by this gigantic crime. I know and understand what took place on the Deepwater Horizon. Folks with intimate knowledge of rig mechanics and procedures are uniformly horrified at what rig politics brought to bear that day. Most of these folks, horrified tho they may be, have more or less accepted the story of 'series of accidents due to cost-cutting and time-on-location over runs'. But they know better deep down --it's just that, once you allow yourself to admit the evidence to your self, evidence of the truth, you're likely going to have a considerably darkened worldview.

I can barely stand to even think about some of the info --it's just beyond human scale --well, no, because wars are human scale --but the gap between the CW and the circumstantial evidence alone, THAT is what's almost beyond scale. I don't mean to hint and then not follow up with links, but i have really too many URLs and do not know where to start --and we're off thread guests on this site as is.
50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
buddy - Don't get all conspiratorial. Stick with the facts. #14 is speculation. Video #5 is directly relevant to the argument about to take place in court. With the administration full of lawyers, you need to keep in mind that to them NOTHING is a fact until proven in a court of law. But look at the first few seconds of that video. You'll see two different colored plumes rising out of the cut off riser, one yellow and one brown. The yellow plume is out of the pinched off end of the drill pipe. The brown plume is through the eroded wall of the BOP body. The difference in color is due to differing oil/gas ratios.

So point one for the initiated is, do you know, because Obama told you, that the Blind Shear Ram was closed? There was a lot of spin that the BSR failed to close. If it were open a lot more oil would flow out. All the speculation about a tool joint being in the BSR was proven to be just that, speculation. The proof is in the forensic examination of the BOP at NASA in LA by Det Norsk Veritas. This is engineering not lawyering.

Reality versus The Narrative.

Under oath, in a court of law, with no place for Steven Chu to hide.

Government scientist versus private sector engineers in a cage match. I feel a music video coming on

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dq4aOaDXIfY
50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
I hear that, NP --but 14 wasn't meant to be probative --just to cue the mood music. For instance, the BOP and highly-conflicted DNV, as you allude. DNV's official US Gov't Final Report could have even been factually true, as it would be factually true Michael Hasting's cause of death was driving his car into a tree. I feel a cartoon coming on

http://www.condenaststore.com/-sp/I-took-aim-pulled-the-trigger-and-then-suddenly-shots-rang-out-New-Yorker-Cartoon-Prints_i8473063_.htm
50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
The DNV report postulated that viscous drag lifted the drill pipe thereby inducing a bending moment that forced it off-center and led to the failure to get a clean cut with the BSR.

BP's expert witness demonstrated that the problem was the failure of the support system for the drill string, which fell after being weakened by the fire. The drill string bent under compression from above. Transocean's Daun Winslow testified to as much. So the BSR could have cleanly cut the drill pipe if it had been activated when mud started pouring down on the drill floor from the mud/gas separator.

All the driller or the captain needed to do was push the BIG RED BUTTON. Even Hillary Clinton can figure out a red RESET button. It's called an Emergency Disconnect System button for a very good reason. Engineers are terrible at politically correct terms. They tend to talk in plain, simple English (or maybe in the Big Easy, Cajun).

You know, when the "ship hit the sand", the dynamic positioning officer used some Cajun, "M'aidez! M'aidez M'aidez. And some of figuratively ran to help.
50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
Back to that car wreck analogy, you're describing the driver's head hitting the windshield. What you're after is why the car and the tree were occupying the same space at all, given the tremendous changes that entails in the shape of the weaker object, and in a known-to-be-impossible effort in the first place.

Briefly tho, the drill crew did try to shut the well in, as soon as it began flowing --when they closed the hydril, it blew thru the kelly co*k, the inside BOP, open and no time to close, unless the kelly had been right down on the rotary table.

Displacing coming out the hole is a rare op anyway --ordinary bit changes while drlg ahead, you come out of hole with the kelly down, in the mousehole, and the elevators under the block.

They hadn't even pumped bottoms up, and were displacing coming out rather than circulating with the drill string downhole where it could kill a kick. Getting back downhole when a well comes in with the drill string uphole or even on the bank, is one of the toughest jobs out there, you have to strip back in a joint at a time, making up the kelly every time, through the shut hydril, and bullhead your kill mud or LCM pill down to the pressure zone, scared sh*tless if there's any open hole, not cased off, that your bullheading is going to fracture a new zone and you lose circulation --and the pressure zone psi that is already insufficient.

In fact, that's the nightmare lose-the-rig scenario --with the last line of defense being having at hand immediately as much drilling mud as you can make, order or have ready on hand, to chase those lost returns and try to keep the hole full so it won't blow out.

But these guys were already there, able to pump from bottom --any abnormal pressure intrusion an easy kill.

Yes, they were cased to bottom --but both leak-off tests failed, and the only possible thing they could've attributed that to, other than that the cement job had failed and the mud in the hole was too light, with gas coming in compressed downhole and the attendant flow this would cause on top being masked by the same crappy casing hanger and riser setup --is that the mud column was unbalanced from the cement job (always happens), and needed to be C&C'd ('circulated & conditioned').

That's "Bottoms Up", as the minimum C&C is called. Everyone always pumps bottoms up, every single time you break circulation. And displacing out a casing job with a negative 70% differential fluid weight you count individual pump strokes and moniter pit volumes, to make certain that any volume increase is caught within the five-barrel stage at the very LATEST --as that gas coming uphole is expanding rapidly, by the noble gas law with 2nd derivative acelleration.

These guys were not monitoring volumes, and were pumping off directly into work boats, skipping the calibrated pits, and so could not have caught an pit volume increase AT ALL, and hence only knew they were in trouble when they shut the pumps off to stand back another stand of pipe, and the well kept flowing anyway. At that point, they were very close to the end, with maybe ten minutes left to live.

These mistakes are not normal even by the shoddiest imaginable standards. The rig crew knew it, but were following orders, understanding that in the end they had the BOP --and the pinchers. But they did not --the critical actuators had been crippled.

BP explains the whole disaster with something EVERYONE savvys and sympathizes with, and also cannot except circumstantially be disproved: "trying to cut costs".

But think about that --it's the only thing they COULD say, but it asks you to believe that someone would spend say 120 days on a well at half a million bucks per day, then discover oil and lots of it, and then while plugging and abandoning so the production platform could be brought in, decided to try to save that one last half-day's cost --by literally and utterly suddenly throwing all, and i DO mean ALL, caution and drilling and safety and common procedures, to the wind, and all-but-literally guaranteeing that the well would be lost and a huge environmental catastrophe would ensue. The perp could have been as few one single exec, who started giving bizarre orders late enough that the event would happen before corporate niceties could be overcome to the point of the board convening and removing him immediately.
50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
--the missing letter in the kelly co*k phrase is a "c" --the comment would not copy to post until i changed it.
50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
...And some of US figuratively ran to help.
50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
MP, not NP --muh fangerz is ignernt
50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
"...love and compassion, their time is coming..."

Tina Turner
50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
Note that on this issue, Obama has no plausible deniability. He is, by his own admission, accountable.
50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
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