July 3rd, 2010

#2142: Lack of oil spill coverage doesn't make sense.

The Anchoress discusses a lack of transparency from "the most transparent administration in history".

According to my theory (which is shared by many) the Obama administration is taking its time with everything related to the oil spill in order to make political hay from it. The Democrats don't like it when Americans exploit American natural resources; the more sensible Democrats want us to get our raw materials from other places and the insane ones want no resources anywhere exploited. A virtually unprecedented oil spill works handily: witness the speed with which the Obama administration banned--by executive fiat--offshore drilling. (The ban was struck down and a new ban emplaced. Thanks, Democrats.)

This being the case, then, where are the images? The images of oil-soaked beaches, the oil-soaked wildlife, the oil-soaked oil soaking the oil with oil?

Who profits by hiding the extent of the damage? BP? BP has contributed big money to Obama and the Democrats, but I can't see politicians being that loyal to a major contributor in the face of a major environmental disaster. Considering that Americans are spontaneously choosing not to patronize BP gas stations because of this, I don't see how politicians of any stripe could justify helping BP with its PR/damage control. Particularly not with the Internet doing its thing.

BP can't hide the damage without government help; the beaches are public property and crude oil is not dangerously toxic as long as you don't drink it. Why would the government help BP hide something like this? Why is the Democrat Regime trying to keep reporters away from the beaches when the stuff they'd show on TV would help them accomplish their goals?

Something about this doesn't make sense.

Other than the CNN news bit Ms. Scalia refers to, the press is totally uncritical of this. Why? Is the press that eager to protect their guy in the White House? Why aren't they asking, "What is being hidden and who is trying to hide it?" And why aren't they telling the American people, "We would like to go look at the mess down there, but the government won't let us"?

Something about that doesn't make sense.

I don't care who's in the White House; there have to be some reporters who are interested in reporting what's happening and why. BP's in a bad odor, so why isn't the "Potemkin village" angle making the national news? Why do we learn of this via the Internet rather than ABC World News or the New York Times? What the fuck has happened to reporting?

From here it seems like the government's glacial response to the crisis--and the disinterest of the press--has one of two explanations:

First, that it wants to move slowly, so that the mess is maximized and the ruling party gets its way with energy policy. Keeping the press away helps to hide the purposefully slow response. The press, agreeing with the goal, keeps mum.

Second, that it's so goddamned incompetent that it can't do anything constructive about the spill; in which case keeping the press away from the mess prevents the ruling party from hemorrhaging approval numbers it can scarcely afford to lose. The press, not wanting to embarass the party they prefer, keeps mum.

The former case makes sense only if you assume that the press places a higher value on Democrat energy and environmental policy than its own self-interest. I don't know how to evaluate that; if the media were even slightly adversarial towards Obama I might be able to, but when a comedian is more adversarial towards this administration than the "real journalists" are it makes that evaluation difficult, if not impossible.

The media won't ask any Democrat the hard questions, and they don't appear to care much about the oil spill now that the Democrats are no longer talking about it.

What about BP?

The problem with the press going after BP is that we end up going right back to talking about the oil spill again; and if we talk about the oil spill, then we're talking about what the government could have done differently to mitigate the effects, blah blah blah etcetera, which neither the press nor the Democrats want to talk about because it makes them look bad. So BP gets a pass, too.

Even at that, though--

Sooner or later the situation will become dire enough that it can no longer be ignored. The leak hasn't been stopped; it's barely even been mitigated. Oil continues to pour out of the pipe into the ocean and hurricane season has begun. Oil atop water is moved by wind--will a hurricane bring the oil slick ashore?

If so, it won't matter what the press does or fails to do; people live on or near those beaches and the government cannot keep them from filming. The word will get out one way or another and eventually the national press will have to acknowledge the story they've been desperately trying to ignore.

Obama will get up in front of the cameras and say, "Well, we didn't realize that the damage would be so extensive. We were assured it would not be. We listened to the smartest people and made our decisions based on their advice, and they were the right decisions with the information we had, and we're going to continue to promote efforts to clean up the gulf."

The press corps will be fine with that non-answer, only it won't fly; not with the general public. If this happens before early November, Democrats will pay dearly for it at the ballot box.

Anyone with half a brain can see all this without needing a crystal ball or time machine. The press has to report on the eco-damage in the gulf lest it appear to be protecting its favored politicians. The government has to act swiftly to mitigate the effects of the disaster lest it be seen as incompetent. The elected officials must be seen to be actively working strenuously to avert as much of the catastrophe as they can. And the corporation behind the spill has to be seen to be doing everything in its power to clean up its act.

...and all we get is theatrics and bloviating. This kind of stuff might have worked forty years ago when the news in the United States was delivered by a loose monopoly composed of CBS-NBC-ABC-NYT; but this is 2010 and we have about a dozen more news networks and the Internet. The news editors in New York city don't control the ebb and flow of journalism any longer.

One would think that the movers and shakers--educated at elite universities!--would at least think themselves smart enough to try to shape the story to suit their ends: tell the story, but tell it a certain way to make them and the guys on their side look competent and earnest.

Instead, they simply attempt to hide everything: they stop talking about it and hope the story quietly goes away, at least until after the elections in November.

Given that, it looks to me like the government has royally stuffed everything its done in response to this situation, and everyone involved knows it--and so the only thing they can possibly do is to change the subject. ("Look! Cap and trade! The economy! Shiny things! Just don't ask about the oil spill!")

The government response to the crisis has been one story of laughable incompetence after another--from the slow response of federal disaster agencies, to the Coast Guard demanding to inspect things it then doesn't bother to inspect, to the EPA disallowing the use of a cleaning system because it's only 99.997% effective, to the oil rig itself being given a safety award mere months before blowing up...and on, and on.

Everything the government has done has made the problem worse.


You want to know why there's no coverage? That's why: for decades the press has been telling us that government is the solution to all our problems, and here we get a perfect example of how government screws everything up. At a time when the party of big government--the Democrat Regime--is trying to expand government.

("99.997%"--the EPA refused to allow a skimming system to be brought in from Europe and operated because it could not remove 99.9985% of the oil from the water it skimmed!)

#2143: Cars of the future?

Whenever some artist tries to draw "the car of the future" the result falls into one of two categories: either it's a car, or it's "something else with four wheels."

Look at #5, "Aerocoach". That is a car, even if it's meant to fly. Its design is practical and its form follows its function.

#6: I don't know what the hell is up with that. No one would design a suspension like that except an artist who knows little about mechanical engineering. But this one at least looks semi-practical.

#7: "Rescue Vehicle". Totally impractical. No one would build a machine like this except for display only. Its form does not follow its function; it's designed to "look cool" and that's it. (And IMHO it fails even at that.)

Looking at the various images I realized that's what's wrong with so many "car of the future" designs: if you design something practical it'll end up looking like what we drive now, because automobiles have pretty much matured as a technology. We've had the things for more than a century; now we know how to design and build them for efficiency and safety, and to mass-produce them in a cost-effective manner.

You might make some changes to the overall appearance of the thing, but in general "the car of the future" will look very much like "the car of today", because the only thing likely to change about it is the power source, which is not immediately visible.

If we somehow make the move to flying cars--which does not look probable anytime soon absent some radical change in technology--then the design book goes out the window. A flying car does not have to look like a groundcar, and in fact won't look like one. Oh, the earliest examples will--witness how much like horse-drawn carriages the earliest cars look--but soon the designs will change because the basic purpose of the machine has changed. A flying car that looks like a groundcar will be inefficient and much less practical than a flying car which was designed to be a flying car using the engineering acumen of a century's experience of designing and building flying cars. (We don't build airplanes that look like box kites any longer, do we?)

Some of the cars on that page are flying cars, and they run the gamut from "car-like" to "totally not car-like", and the latter is more likely.

So here's a tip for artists out there who want to draw "the car of the future": think about what you're drawing and what the machine will be used for before you start. "It looks cool" might be a good criterion when you're 12; but bear in mind that the inspiration for this series of images came from someone who was trying to design futuristic but practical vehicles for a movie. Most of the vehicles in Blade Runner were utilitarian and slightly ugly.

"Ugly" you can attribute to a change in style; but "utilitarian" never goes out of style. In fact, it always comes first.