Fact Checking The EPA

I was doing a little research on the mess, and wanted to get some data on the Gulf. According to the EPA, it has a volume of 642 trillion gallons. This seems off by three orders of magnitude to me (that is, I think that its 642 quadrillion gallons — 1015th, not 1012th — which is what a trillion would be).

My calculation is based on the stated area of 600,000 square miles (which seems reasonable to me), and average depth of 1600 meters (why do they have to mix their units?), which is about 5100 feet. Multiply the square miles by 5280 squared, and you get about 17 trillion square feet. So the volume has to be three orders of magnitude more than that, and it’s another order of magnitude (7.5 gallons per square foot) when you convert to gallons.

Am I off, or are they?

Yeah, I want these people to be in charge of regulating carbon emissions (including, no doubt, my exhalations).

[Update late afternoon]

Why do I care, you ask? Because people are saying that with the new estimate of the leak rate, this is the equivalent of “n” Exxon Valdezes per week, where n varies with the commentator. But the Gulf isn’t Prince William Sound. Based on the number of 11,000 square miles affected in Alaska, and an average depth of a thousand feet (generous, I think — the deepest point in sound is 2000, and most of it is a lot less, even when you get out around the Kenai Peninsula), I get a ratio of volumes of on the order of 300, so we’d need a lot of Exxon Valdezes to make it comparable to that disaster. I don’t know whether the warmer temps of the Gulf make things better, or worse, though.

Is Kagen Anti-Gun?

Probably. I’d be pretty surprised to learn that she agreed with Heller, for instance. I have to say, I’m in no big hurry to see Stevens replaced, because any of Obama’s nominees are likely to be disastrous for decades. This was in fact the biggest reason to prefer McCain in 2008 — to prevent, or at least mitigate, such long-lasting damage to liberty.

America Is A Campus

…and Obama is our dean. Complete with speech codes, apparently. Glenn Reynolds disagrees somewhat:

Nonsense. No Dean would rock the boat so rashly, or offend the money folks so gratuitously, or put the college into so much debt. On the other hand, Hanson hits the nail on the head in other ways.

Yes. Like the president’s credentialism hypocrisy on Kagen versus Miers. Not to mention himself.

[Early afternoon update]

Related thoughts
from Jay Nordlinger:

I hope I have read that incorrectly, or am interpreting it incorrectly. Did we, the United States, talking to a government that maintains a gulag, that denies people their basic rights, that in all probability harvests organs, apologize for the new immigration law in Arizona? Really, really?

…Do you ever get the idea that our government is a bunch of left-wing undergraduates come to power?

Every day.

A Space Glossary

The other day, a commenter said that he thought that Constellation was just the rocket and capsule. Many people don’t know what Constellation (and other things) are, and aren’t, which is what feeds part of the ignorant hysteria that we’ve seen in the press and on the Hill since the new budget was bumblingly introduced in February (and unfortunately, the administrator remains poor on his messaging and communications capability, with his talk about “bailouts” for the commercial sector). Anyway, as a probably futile attempt to clear the fog, I have a glossary and explanation up over at PJM today.

The Global Green Meltdown

…gains momentum. Some thoughts on our justified loss of faith in technocrats, from Walter Russell Mead. One point I would add is that much of the green movement was and is driven by the watermelon socialists, who leaped on to it with the collapse of the Soviet Union and (temporary, unfortunately) corresponding collapse in the credibility of socialism. I’d like to think that the current mess, including the collapse of Eurosocialism, will be the final stake through its heart, but I’m afraid that we’ll have to wage this ideological battle over and over, because every generation or two, we forget what a disaster it is everywhere it’s tried, and the basic tenets are a siren’s song to human nature.

An Interesting Head Case

Alcor just won a lawsuit to allow them to disinter a body that had been buried for two years, and cryonically suspend the rotted head.

Yes, it’s pointless, as far as that patient went (as far as I’m concerned, his family murdered him), but Alcor had to do this, to assure their other customers that it would do whatever was necessary to fight for them, and fulfill its contractual responsibilities. It was also a useful reminder to obstreperous relatives that they have to obey the wishes of the deceased. What’s particularly disgusting about this is that it appears they did it for the money. I thought it seemed like chutzpah to prevent Alcor from fulfilling the contract, then demanding the money back for it.

A Waste Of Time And Money

The Orlando Sentinel, like me, is concerned about politics dragging out decisions on the new space policy. A couple points, though. Retiring the Shuttle isn’t “Obama’s plan” — that decision was made over six years ago, by the Bush administration. Similarly, this seems like a strange criticism:

Mr. Obama’s plan also calls for abandoning NASA’s next manned program, Constellation, and its goal of reaching the moon by 2020 for a new program that would aim for farther destinations. But the best the president has promised is that astronauts would be reaching asteroids sometime in the mid-2020s, and flying around Mars sometimes in the 2030s.

Those goals are so distant, they’re almost meaningless. Such a time lag would put at risk America’s legacy of leadership in manned space exploration.

Let’s see… 2020 for the moon minus 2004 when it was announced: sixteen years. 2025 for an asteroid minus 2010 when it was announced: fifteen years. The Obama plan seems to be a slightly less distant goal than the VSE. Did they complain then?

A resolution may not come till the end of the year, when lawmakers give final approval to the 2011 budget.

That’s far too long for space policy to be in limbo. There’s room for a reasonable compromise — perhaps keeping Constellation with a different rocket, or moving up the timeline for a new manned program.

I wouldn’t assume that there will even be one by the end of the year, and there may be a whole new set of lawmakers involved in the final 2011 budget. In fact, we know that Alan Mollohan won’t be committee chair next year.

And what does “keeping Constellation with a different rocket” mean? The Ares was one of the defining features of Constellation. Do they mean restoring the lunar goal? Or what?

[Update a while later]

A commenter asks:

What is there to Constellation but the rocket and the capsule? I didn’t know anything else existed.

A lot of people are in that boat. A lack of understanding of what Constellation is (and isn’t) is one of the sources of the policy confusion. I’ve actually written an article about that, that I hope will be published soon at Pajamas Media. But briefly, Constellation was all of the elements needed to get astronauts back to the lunar surface, but most of them were scheduled to be developed years from now. Only “the rocket and the capsule” are/were under current development.

Biting Commentary about Infinity…and Beyond!