Watch Astounding Deepwater Submersible Work to Fix Gulf Oil Gusher

Update June 4 10:00 am: The BP robot operators are trying to close the valves on the gusher cap they installed last night.  Meanwhile, oil blasts out through those valves while some channels up to a surface ship.  It remains to be seen if by closing the valves BP can stop the uncontrolled gusher and channel all of the oil to their ships.

Update June 3 10:00 pm: It does not appear to be working.  I think BP keeps insisting on using rather narrow pipes to handle this gusher which is putting out enormous loads of pressure.  Why don’t they fit a large sewer pipe around this blowout preventer?  A large diameter sewer pipe could simply hang around the gusher without even making a tight fit.  Then the gushing oil would be gradually corralled into a somewhat narrower pipe leading to the surface.  Blockages of frozen matter seen in the original effort to put a big box around the gusher must be a product primarily of using too narrow gauge a pipe for this job.  You can’t try to push all this high-pressure oil into a narrow pipe leading to the surface.  You have to gradually ease it up into a very wide pipe.

The cap BP is trying to fit on the gusher simply doesn’t have enough weight to press its rubber gasket tight enough to the pipe, so too much oil is leaking around it.  BP’s robot operators are wonderful, but I’m having very serious doubts about the competence of its engineers.  Very serious.  It may be well past time for President Obama to get NASA involved.  There’s no way that a good engineer is going to be trying to fit a narrow pipe over a high-pressure volcano.  It’s silly.

By the way, this planetary level disaster is quite likely to wipe out most of the coast of the United States.  The greatest superpower nation on earth is about to lose most of its coastline from the south all the way up the eastern seaboard to New York.  A single company with a single 24-inch hole in the ground has done this.  It is this event, not 9/11, that is the turning point.  We have reached the end of the era of global corporations.  They are too dangerous.  Governments must retool and rethink.  Companies like BP must be destroyed, either financially or legislatively.

Original post below:

If you want a few heroes out of this horrendous Gulf Oil Disaster, you should start by watching the work of whoever is controlling the deep water submersible arms. It’s fascinating and highly educational to observe the careful thought process that goes on in advance of every single minute movement made by this machine. Remote control at 5000 feet of depth is a rare skill indeed. BP is attempting to place a cap and pipe onto the cutoff top end of the pipe that is spewing oil into the Gulf waters. So the robots will need to be carefully controlled to aim this device and place it right into the center of the gusher.

This approach has a high probability of success. But if they miss the hole and bend something, they will need to try again. This could well be one of the great feats of engineering in modern times. Well worth watching patiently.

Haiti May Be Providing Slave Labor to U.S. Corporations

Haitians Hang French Troops For Their Acts of Cruelty

During the earthquake crisis in Haiti I have continued to ask the same question of my friends: How, in the 21st Century, can a country so close to the richest nation on earth be so poor?  No one seems to have an answer except for Pat Robertson (who is not a friend, by the way) who suggests that the Haitians made a pact with the devil when they made the French leave.  Seems an odd way to refer to a successful uprising against slavery, doesn’t it?

Since the earthquake, I have learned that Haiti was apparently the location of the world’s first successful uprising against slavery.  They fought the French and won.  It is also the world’s oldest black republic.  It is this achievement that a person like televangelist Pat Robertson suggests is a pact with the devil.

But now it seems that U.S. corporations are using Haitian workers in sweatshop factories to manufacture goods at wages of approximately 30 cents per hour.  That must be why the tiny nation is too poor to build things that can withstand earthquakes.  It will be useful to learn how many of these factories or sweatshops/slave camps have collapsed in the earthquake.  I would imagine that there will be some investigation of such places in the near future.  Perhaps the slave trade never really ended at all, but simply changed its name to ‘cheap labor’ or ‘sweatshop’ or ‘globalism.’

Here’s a history of Haiti from Wikipedia.

Here’s an article about the U.S. role in keeping Haiti poor.

Disney has used cheap labor in Haiti.  They say so themselves right here.

I particularly like their response to a question about child labor:

Q. What is your policy on child labor?
Our Code of Conduct for Manufacturers prohibits child labor. Companies that make Disney-branded products must sign a contract stating that they do not and will not use child labor. Child is defined as “a person younger than 15 (or 14 where local law allows) or, if higher, the local legal minimum age for employment or the age for completing compulsory education.” If child labor is discovered in a factory, we generally seek to work with the factory, as well as the licensee that uses the factory, to identify the most feasible solution to remedy the situation as quickly as possible. This may include collaboration with government, multilateral institutions, NGOs or other companies that use the factory.

So Disney will ‘seek to work with the factory’ if it finds child labor going on. Am I the only one who’s shocked that a U.S. corporation would print such a statement of its own accord?  Because if it were me finding out about child labor, I would ‘seek to work’ a hammer into someone’s head.  For my part, I can only define very cheap labor in a very poor country where workers are threatened with reprisals if they try to improve their lot as slavery.  In fact, the more I learn about Haiti the less it looks like a country and more like a camp.

Haiti Disaster and Web Responsibility – Or Lack of It

Yesterday, after cruising around the Web to visit my favorite literature, poetry, film and animation web sites and blogs, I went into a profound snit about how some of our most established and respected blogs have totally ignored a major catastrophe that has and is still killing tens of thousands of people in Haiti.  It is an event that makes 9/11 seem almost totally irrelevant.  We, as a nation, spend a great deal of time thinking and talking about 9/11 and its terrorist masterminds – what their plans might be and how to stop them.  But we spend very little time thinking about the events that wipe 50,000 people out of existence within 30 seconds time.  Airport scanners.  Border security.  Laptop searches.  Photographer’s rights.  AT&T/government eavesdropping.  All of these are important, yes.  But we live in a world where people die because the earth simply shrugs them off and buries them in a pile of dirt.  That is truly frightening.  That’s something we should be working to avoid.  We should be thinking more about how to build an earthquake-resistant building than how to take nude pictures of people getting on airplanes because we’re afraid they might have a baggy-bomb shoved up under their crotch.

But what peeved me off yesterday was realizing that some well-established blogs and sites have not even so much as mentioned the Haiti disaster.  No pleas and links for donations.  No blog entries.  No pictures.  Nothing.  Not a peep.  Profound and blissful silence.  As if the tragic events of the world have no place in the literary or artistic sphere.

Some of the major blogs I read have, up to this moment, not made a single mention of the humanitarian crisis going on in Haiti (auto-served ad boxes don’t count in my estimation).  And there’s literary site, The Millions, that has seen fit to mention a video about Haiti in its ‘Curiosities’ section!  Curiosities!  The Haiti event is enormous.  Simply shocking.  Not a ‘curiosity.’  I fully understand that it is not the business of every blog or site to be conveying the news.  Sure, every blogger has his or her focus.  But the Web is the tool they are using and I think they should use it for what it’s good at in a time of crisis.  We are not on the Web to isolate, but rather to connect.  That’s why its called ‘The Web.’  It’s a very simple matter to put a link to an aid organization’s donation page on your site and it truly does help.  The proliferation of those links in times of disaster is actually one of the historic and most marvelous things about the Internet.  In fact, that use of the Internet may be the single greatest possible use behind its existence.  The ability to instantly channel financial assistance to the place where it is most needed cannot be matched by any other possible use of the worldwide network.  If you ignore this use, you have abandoned your simplest duty as a node on the network.

Contrast the behavior of these sites with a site like The Rumpus, which has been featuring Haiti information in its sidebar for days now.  Marvelous and responsible.  The Rumpus is a literary and cultural site that digs deep into some of our best writing, filmmaking, painting and music.  But they also behave as if they are looking at reality.  Someone over there saw a pile of dead people in Haiti and millions more wandering around looking for food and thought it might be a good idea to offer a little of the kind of assistance that the Internet is good at.  Two more sites that show some awareness of what’s going on are Amazon and Powell’s Books.  Two e-commerce sites!  Amazon is the crook in the room for so many literary people and publishers, but they know how to use the Internet, don’t they?  They ask for donations to help the victims of an awful world-changing event.  I am now a big fan of Amazon and of Powell’s.  Contrast the behavior of the listed sites (I have removed the list of sites that angered me – no point in pointing – just need to make the general point) to a site like Boing Boing, which consistently updates its reporting on Haiti with links and videos.  Simple, obvious and responsible Web behavior.

Of course I know that I’m leaving many good sites out.  But I’m writing here about the little circle of sites that I tend to hit on a daily basis.  And I’m mad as hell.  I’m so mad that I would delete those sites off their servers right now had I the button to do so.

Not every crisis in the world can or should be instantly covered by every blog on the Internet.  That would probably be impossible.  But when something wipes out 50,000 people at a stroke and a possible three million more are injured and six million are without food and water, well, you’ve simply got to do the least you can do which is to mention it and put a link to the Red Cross on your bloody home page.  It’s the least you can do.  Get it?

I’ve been trying to enjoy the world of literature and poetry and animation on the Web recently.  I’ve linked to articles here and there on some of these sites.  I’ve tried to make sense of some of the more esoteric and subtle thought processes that go on, especially in the world of poetry.  I think poetry is experiencing some kind of magical flourishing on the Web that is unmatched in its entire history.  But poetry that doesn’t see the pile of dead bodies in the room is written on paper that’s on fire.  Up in smoke.

You want to know how easy it is to help with your blog?  Here you go:

You can donate to the Red Cross International Response Fund.  Also, giving blood is always one of the very best things you can do because it fills the blood banks and can be used almost anywhere.

You can also donate to Doctors Without Borders, which is putting medical personnel on the ground in Haiti to assist in saving lives.

See that?  Now go get your houses in order, because if you don’t, I’m never coming to your damned blogs again.

Interrupt your reading to have a look: