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All posts for the month February, 2011

Listening to a presentation from the International Association of Drilling Contractors on the Macondo fall-out.

Demands for containment resources x00% x max spill potential available on site or within x hours are being used to reject permits to deep water drill since the moratorium ended in October. A little bit “no spill ever again” level of safety demand before permits will be granted. At least a year of deepwater drilling industry shutdown in the US gulf, which is a major regional industrial depression well beyond the O&G companies.

(Incidentally – innovative capping containments also being developed internationally. Ixtoc 1979 was bigger and flowed for a whole year. See previous Macondo threads and comment threads.)

Great Wall Drilling / Hashwe(?) / Repsol / Saipem / Gazprom / Statoil / Pertamina / ONGC / PetroVietnam / Petrobras and other partners, drilling in deep water (1 mile deep) in loop current between Cuba and Florida, with flows at 14 knots towards Florida and Carolina Atlantic coasts, and/or Cuban coast, not of course regulated by US permitting. Worse still …

People have already been prosecuted heavily for US content of technology (see partners) delivered indirectly to Cuban drilling industry. US (politically) cannot provide BOP or containment technology for a drilling operation that threatens the US coastline. People are trying to “do the right thing” without getting fired for legal infringements, amongst the political regulation. Interesting angle.

Strange gig last night. Heavy looking line-up at Brisbane’s Globe Theatre, 4 or 5 (?) on the line-up, I saw three. Gold Coast’s F111’s I wanted to see, they are (were) local legends. The whole event was low key – none of the acts pre-set-up on stage, no roadies, just the one sound guy, really slow change overs. After Homeless Yellow (Dreadlocks, two acoustic guitars, OK), Sons of the Soil (single heavy guitar, also OK if brief set.), I’m glad I stayed to see the F111’s – but only about 15 people did, at least 10 of whom seemed to know the band personally. Most of the local bar bands attract more that that on a Saturday night. Spooky.

Still, double-stacked Marshall 4×12’s OTT in such a venue, hairy-arsed tattooed bass and rhythm guitars slung so low they could (and did) play between their legs, clean cut lead, seriously loud and heavy. Classic if stereotypical heavy rock, originals so far as I could tell, culminating in a cover of Motorhead’s Ace of Spades. It’s only rock and roll. Clearly this stuff does go out of fashion – but sad to see so much energy wasted on so few. I liked it.

Finished Rebecca Goldstein’s “Betraying Spinoza” the other day, and found it an excellent piece of work. Having been very busy for a couple of days, I’ve not really had a chance to compose a detailed review. For now …

Radical objectivism. Ultimately the self-other dualism is dissolved by expanding the scope of self. I am we. We are the cosmos. Enlightened self-interest is not a matter of calculating individual benefit of deferred gratification in a tangle of quid-pro-quo transactions with “others”, but by “identifying” with the whole. What is good for we is good (for including me).

The question is who is we ? In Spinoza’s case, clearly this started with his Jewish identity, and expanded from there to the cosmos itself. Anyway, no time for a more thorough review, but Betraying Spinoza is an excellent resource on Jewish history as well as the life of Spinoza.

I then read in just a couple of sittings, Andy Martin’s “Beware Invisible Cows“. The title is a warning concerning altitude sickness at the Keck observatory on 14,000 foot Mauna Kea, Hawaii, and the book and its publicity quotes point to it being a popular science writing on the astronomical and cosmological theory on the origins of the cosmos. In fact that is very much secondary to a beautifully written piece – almost had me in tears – on the limits of physics and metaphysics anchored in family / filial love. What was the question, again – who is we ?

Charles Freeman’s “The Closing of the Western Mind” is already legendary so I recognized it instantly and picked up a copy at Border’s in Brisbane. Obviously I was expecting philosophy, and it does have a potted history of the original Greek schools, but what I hadn’t realized was that it focusses on the history of Christianity aided and abetted by the Romans. That closing of the western mind. In fact only a few pages in I was thinking this is like a modern version of Gibbon’s (Divine) Decline and Fall. Gibbon is eventually mentioned briefly, but historical inaccuracy means it is not a source of scholarly references, more a source of sardonic wit. Also a great deal of history of the bible itself and related Jewish texts, so it follows surprising well on the heels of Betraying Spinoza.

Man, I need to stop reading. And I still have Steven J Gould’s 2000 reflections on natural history “The Lying Stones of Marrakech” beside me when I’ve finished the closing mind.

Filippino Lippi’s Triumph of Faith / (Triumph of St Thomas Aquinas over the Heretics) is symbolic in Freeman’s book of Christian faith stamping out wiser philosophies. Ironic given Aquinas later influences. Some say that is Averroes (Ibn Rushd) under his foot.

Oh, and before I forget, the I / we thing. The Ptolemeic / Copernican revolutions ? Nah, what’s the difference, not really revolutions. Just refinements of seeing “we” at the centre. Earth / Sun, what’s the difference in cosmic terms – still me-we-centric. Why is it that the whole universe appears to be expanding uniformly away from “our” galaxy ? Was reminded again by the Hubble and Cosmic Microwave Background pieces in Andy Martin’s book. Anthropocentrism is natural.

And finally, talking of reading:

Thanks to Jorn Barger for this one. From Rosie Siman.