Friday, August 25, 2006


Friday Grab Bag

Because I'm too lazy to make separate posts right now: -- The Beeb on why the new anti-Pluto ruling stinks to high heaven. What's even worse is that, in order to allow Neptune and not Pluto under their new cockeyed definition of a planet, they invented an exception for "classical planets" to the area-clearing rule -- and redefined the term "classical planet" to include Neptune. The whole reason the term "classical planet" exists in the first place is as a way to set apart those planets we've known about pre-telescope from those discovered post-telescope (Uranus, Neptune, et al). This is like suddenly declaring that the word "black" now represents the color white, its polar opposite. -- In other news, it's obvious to me that the Hogwarts Express was re-routed in the 1990s due to the "Voldemort problem" and now runs through Watford Junction. Disillusionment Charms are used to give the appearance of a run-down and disused junction, but two times a year it opens for pupil traffic to and from the renowned British wizarding school. And from our friends at the UK Independent: -- John Bolton and his acolytes are acting like firebugs at a dynamite factory, and dragging the GOP with them. Situation normal for them. -- Oh, and engineers warned BP two years ago of problems with the Alaskan pipeline. -- The head of the IDF admits to "logistical errors" in attacking Lebanon. Um, right.

The Iran story is the important one, of course, but the BP one hits closer home for me.

The more conspiratorial think that BP timed the shutdown for maximum price pressure. But a more likely explanation is that the company is simply incompetent or indifferent on safety issues. They didn't time blowing up that refinery in Texas. My experience with British companies is that they tend to shave pennies to improve the bottom line, while lacking much a vision to grow the top line. BP has proved that very nicely, having managed in an era of an explosion of green technologies, managed to confine its entire green commitment to its logo.
People have no idea how flat-out stupid the rich and powerful can be -- largely because they have enough money and power to insulate them from the consequences of their own actions.

The thing is that most of the rich and powerful are not "self-made men/women"; even Bill Gates was the son of a very rich and very prominent Seattle lawyer, the "name partner" of Seattle's most prominent law firm. So you're looking at people who never had to struggle very hard for what they had; they can afford to hire others to think for them and to suffer for them.
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