“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Dig In!

And by request:


  1. And a little piano music to go along with that food from a remarkable virtuosa who makes me proud to be a woman, Suzanne Ciani

  2. Another example of why you should keep your wars short. NY TIMES

    KABUL, Afghanistan — Two senior Afghan officials were showing President Hamid Karzai the evidence of the spectacular rocket attack on a nationwide peace conference earlier this month when Mr. Karzai told them that he believed the Taliban were not responsible.
    Enlarge This Image

    Massoud Hossaini/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
    In January, Hanif Atmar, then the interior minister of Afghanistan, gestured during a medal ceremony in Kabul. He and another top official have resigned from the Hamid Karzai government.

    Afghanistan’s former intelligence chief, Amrullah Saleh, in Kabul on Wednesday. He also resigned his position.
    “The president did not show any interest in the evidence — none — he treated it like a piece of dirt,” said Amrullah Saleh, then the director of the Afghan intelligence service.

    Mr. Saleh declined to discuss Mr. Karzai’s reasoning in more detail. But a prominent Afghan with knowledge of the meeting, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that Mr. Karzai suggested in the meeting that it might have been the Americans who carried it out.

  3. Fred Barnes:

    Obamaland is crumbling. Democrats have firmly controlled Illinois, the president’s home state, for nearly a decade, turning it into what one Republican called “a deep blue state.” But this has changed almost overnight. In the midterm elections on November 2, Democrats stand to lose the governorship, Obama’s old Senate seat, two to four House seats, and any number of state legislative seats and down-ticket statewide offices.

    Whaaaa ha. Ha. Ha.

  4. Karzai Is Said to Doubt West Can Defeat Taliban

    KABUL, Afghanistan — The Afghan president has been pressing to strike his own deal with the Taliban and Pakistan because he has lost confidence that the United States and NATO will win, officials said.

  5. BP Decisions Set Stage for Disaster

    Best article I've seen documenting BP's serial avoidance of industry best practices, as if this was an easy job that went smoothly from the start.
    The opposite was true.

    Well collapse...

    The episode took days to resolve, according to drilling reports, not counting time lost to backtracking and re-drilling. Each additional day cost BP $1 million in rig lease and contractor fees.

    Other problems arose. The rock was so brittle in places that drilling mud cracked it open and escaped. One person familiar with the matter estimates BP lost at least $15 million worth of the fluid.

    Halliburton Advice Ignored...

    Halliburton, the cementing contractor, advised BP to install numerous devices to make sure the pipe was centered in the well before pumping cement, according to Halliburton documents, provided to congressional investigators and seen by the Journal. Otherwise, the cement might develop small channels that gas could squeeze through.

    In an April 18 report to BP, Halliburton warned that if BP didn't use more centering devices, the well would likely have "a SEVERE gas flow problem." Still, BP decided to install fewer of the devices than Halliburton recommended—six instead of 21.

    BP said it's still investigating how cementing was done. Halliburton said that it followed BP's instructions, and that while some "were not consistent with industry best practices," they were "within acceptable industry standards."

    BP Chooses Cheap on Casing...

    The cement job was especially important on this well because of a BP design choice that some petroleum engineers call unusual. BP ran a single long pipe, made up of sections screwed together, all the way from the sea floor to the oil reservoir.

    'They were doing too many jobs at one time,' says Tyrone Benton, who worked on the rig.
    Companies often use two pipes, one inside another, sealed together, with the smaller one sticking into the oil reservoir. With this system, if gas tries to get up the outside of the pipe, it has to break through not just cement but also the seal connecting the pipes. So the more typical design provides an extra level of protection, but also requires another long, expensive piece of pipe.

  6. "I couldn't understand why they would run a long string," meaning a single pipe, said David Pursell, a petroleum engineer and managing director of Tudor, Pickering, Holt & Co., an energy-focused investment bank. Oil major Royal Dutch Shell PLC, in a letter to the MMS, said it "generally does not" use a single pipe.

    No "Bottoms Up" Mud Test Performed...

    Before doing a cement job on a well, common industry practice is to circulate the drilling mud through the well, bringing the mud at the bottom all the way up to the drilling rig.

    This procedure, known as "bottoms up," lets workers check the mud to see if it is absorbing gas leaking in. If so, they can clean the gas out of the mud before putting it back down into the well to maintain the pressure. The American Petroleum Institute says it is "common cementing best practice" to circulate the mud at least once.

    Circulating all the mud in a well of 18,360 feet, as this one was, takes six to 12 hours, say people who've run the procedure. But mud circulation on this well was done for just 30 minutes on April 19, drilling logs say, not nearly long enough to bring mud to the surface.

    Cement Bond Log not Performed...

    BP also didn't run tests to check on the last of the cement after it was pumped into the well, despite the importance of cement to this well design and despite Halliburton's warning that the cement might not seal properly. Workers from Schlumberger Ltd. were aboard and available to do such tests, but on the morning of April 20, about 12 hours before the blowout, BP told Schlumberger workers their work was done, according to Schlumberger. They caught a helicopter back to shore at 11 a.m.

    BP told the Journal Tuesday that the tests weren't run because they were needed only if there were signs of trouble in the cement job, and the work seemed to go smoothly. But the same day, BP officials told congressional investigators there were signs before the disaster that the cement might have been contaminated and that some cementing equipment didn't work properly, according to a memo from two Congressmen.

    It goes on, getting worse and worse, on a rig where workers got their wills in order before going back out on the platform for the last time.

  7. Didn't notice Deuce had linked the same article.

  8. This news came out the other day, Doug. Karzai lost faith in the US during his "corrupted" elections. Since then, he's been looking to Pakistan.

    The stage is being set for next years withdrawals.

  9. Just as Pakistan has seemingly gotten tougher on the Taliban, our man craps on us all.

  10. Living Close to Nature:

    Prince Charles famously replied that he'd like to
    "live inside your trousers ... as a tampon."

    ht - PA Cat @BC

  11. Good news, that, whit.

    We will either have Osama and Doc Z, by then, or we never will.
    We'll have played our hand, best we could, as it was dealt. We had the best the master dang poker player from Texas in our seat, 'fore he handed the cards our ante and the pot to the Chi-town ganstas.

    Who upped the ante.

    Not to build a Nation, but to give our Six Stars, McCrystal being the "best" 'fighting' Spec Ops General we got, a last chance to gain the prize they've eyed for almost a decade.

    I wish 'em well.
    Give our head hunting a maximum effort, succeed or fail, then get out.
    At the end of a decade of effort.
    Seems reasonable.

  12. At least the best the master dang poker player from Texas had the heads captured, instead of vaporized, gaining intel from them that saved American lives from more planned attacks on the mainland.

    We got Hell to pay going forward.

  13. The Traitor in Chief simply declassified all our intelligence gathering methods so the enemy could improve their training programs, so might as well vaporize them heads that were rendered impervious by the declassification.

  14. Prelude to a Civil War, whit, if we are unlucky or just plain stupid.

    That the pressure is building, in parts of Mexico, undeniable.

    That the US is the release valve, all to true.

    You think that the migration is a trouble, now? Recall that in Iraq, during the 'Civil War' portion of the conflict:

    A new United Nations report says Iraq is "hemorrhaging" refugees in staggering numbers. Anywhere from 2,000 to 3,000 people are fleeing the country every day.

    After 3 1/2 years of nearly constant warfare, at least 1.5 million Iraqi refugees have moved to neighboring countries, reshaping the already complex demographic mosaics of Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon. The influx has prompted government crackdowns and anger from local populations who feel refugees are grabbing scarce jobs and resources.

    Now also recall that the population of Mexico is over 4 times that of Iraq.

    A quick quadrupling of the refugee flow, puts it at 12,000 each day, plus the 3,000 economic refugees we are already are covertly accepting, each day.

    We could expect, in the advent of a Mexican Civil War, a huge tide of refugees.

  15. The BP story sure looks like "Criminal Negligence", to me.

    But maybe they have a solid legal defense.

    Time, the Federal Prosecutors and the Courts will tell.

  16. Iraqi Christians: Better off than other Iraqi refugees?

    Arab Christians in the US and elsewhere help facilitate the resettlement of Iraqi Christians fleeing violence in Iraq. Is the Western media overplaying the challenges facing Christians in Iraq?

  17. Looks like a moveable feast alright

    by Ernie

    Kinda slopped it together to make a little extra money, I think. It's got some kinky parts.

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