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Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The Gulf Oil Spill and the nervous number crunchers who caused it, something does not add up, and Everybody Loves Raymond shows us why.

The video clip link up above from Everybody Loves Raymond is meant to show how questionable the British Petroleum methodology appears to have been once an emergency situation arose. Once you click on the link you will need to go to the 9:00 minute mark and start viewing from that point.

Up above, Raymond is using a garden hose that is too short to reach the kitchen countertop fire.
(Image above from Sixty Minutes.) Oil pumping apparatus problems at the ocean's depths were basically ignored because the oil pumping parts were still partially responding. However, just like Raymond, pressing on a trigger to try and fix a problem was easier than actually going to the source and fighting the problem there.

The two situations parallel each other. One is a comedy, the other is an environmental tragedy of growing proportions.

Raymond was able to pacify himself even though his too short hose spewed water that could not reach the fire. BP was able to pacify itself because it's remote control devices still engaged the oil pumping apparatus located at the ocean's depths, however....

...The BP officials knew their oil drilling equipment located at the bottom of the ocean was not properly responding to their above sea level remote control commands, aka, they to had too short of a hose to reach the problem area properly.

Just like Raymond,
BP officials needed to handle their hot spot up close and personal,
just the way that Raymond's wife came to the rescue and handled the kitchen fire.
It certainly looks like BP kept pulling a Raymond by trying to fix their problem with a hose that was too short when what they really needed to do was fight their problem up close, down at the ocean's floor.

It amazes me how quality comedy shows can actually have incredibly important life lessons blended in, and it's a shame that BP executives either never saw that clip from Everybody Loves Raymond, or never made an association between Raymond and his too short hose and their own short comings.

Sixty Minutes ran a piece on the Gulf Oil Spill a couple of weeks ago and two things stood out to me. The first one is, what happened to Andrea?

The second one is about the internal claim made by British Petroleum and its associate companies that they were losing a million dollars a day because of delays related to the drilling. I don't believe BP was losing a million dollars a day. However, I do believe that using such a false premise to panic everybody into not following the right course of action needs to be fully investigated.
The three minute and five second mark is where you would want to start viewing the Sixty Minutes clip for purposes of this article.

Oil is a supply and demand business. If oil supplies drop below demand, the price on the remaining oil supply rises, if oil supplies out pace demand, the price drops. In either scenario, the oil company's overall revenues remain relatively stable.
Can someone explain to me how delays in oil exploration cost a company "more" money when those same delays allow them to charge more for their existing oil supply?
Unless another internal source of oil revenue for British Petroleum had dried up and needed to be replaced, there was no real financial loss to British Petroleum being caused by their schedule delays. Anybody can make up a schedule, but that does not make it a realistic schedule that must be obeyed at the expense of environmental safety. Nor does it mean that the oil company is really losing money when they can't meet an unrealistic schedule.

When it became obvious that there was a problem with the Gulf oil drilling apparatus, the premise that the problem mattered less than the loss in productivity was a lie. So why were the BP executives lying? I wonder if their lies may have been motivated by an on time schedule based bonus incentive.

Maybe prior examples abound of on time schedule based incentive bonuses that have benefited everybody from the oil company to the end consumers, but we're talking about the ocean here. The fact that land based oil pumping stations allow easier maintenance and repair access cannot be used as a guide for ocean based oil pumping.

The "next to impossible to get to because it is located on the ocean floor" oil pumping apparatus suggests that previous successful land based schedule based incentives cannot be compared to this fragile eco ocean situation.

Look at the picture of Raymond again. Would you consider Raymond and his too short garden hose your primary line of defense if you had a kitchen fire?
What if you had an oil pumping problem occurring at the bottom of the ocean's floor, would Raymond be all that protected you from the millions of gallons of petroleum spilling out into our life sustaining oceans?

Saturday, May 15, 2010

All Aboard the X-Train to Vegas.

Edit update (Friday, May 21, 2010) Andy Rooney makes a powerful case for the gambling industry offering nothing to help our economy. Good one Andy!

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Alan Mendelson of Alan's Best Buys has done it again as he reports on a new train venture that will travel between Los Angeles and Las Vegas.

The X-Train sounds interesting. It is kind of ironic that the innovators and business savvy people who are able to find a niche new business that will probably succeed will be catering to the gaming/gambling industry.

It begs the question, is this the kind of enterprise that actually "stimulates" the economy and our alleged drive towards greener technologies, or does the X-Train just grab at an existing piece of hanging economic fruit?

Is there anything about the X-train besides how it "looks" on the inside that can be pointed to as a green energy innovation? If the answer is no, could the first X-train, once it's up and running, be used to generate profits that could go towards designing the next X-Train with some type of green energy innovation?

How about making the next X-Train out of reinforced solar absorbing plastics, the kind of technology that UCLA has been working on for a few years?

I wonder how the scheduling works for something like this. Is it one rail track that has to be shared by trains going in both directions? How many turnouts are there between Los Angeles and Las Vegas? Since the X-Train will probably be pretty fast, what if it catches up to a freight train?

What I really like about the X-Train concept is how business people are using an already existing infrastructure to create a business opportunity. Too bad it will rely on speed and the use of existing energy sources rather than the greener technologies that we are supposed to be gravitating towards.

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