Thursday, December 15, 2005

Kingfisher Geyser Mystery Solved

The Enid News and Eagle appears to have solved the mystery of the Oklahoma geysers (more here) thanks to a modern, reader-interactive website:
We got a tip on reader comments yesterday that was very helpful to us in getting the right questions asked. A reader posted a comment that gave the name and location of a Chesapeake rig that had experienced a “gas kick” at about 9,200 feet last week. The reader explained that they lost the drill pipe and circulation. We took his information and further queried some local experts, who gave us some more clues about possibly happened and helped us understand what questions we needed to ask.
Our reporter started making phone calls around 9:30 a.m. to Chesapeake and to the Oklahoma Corporation Commission. They weren’t prepared to give us immediate answers. We continued to watch the other news coverage about the Kingfisher geysers, and no other organizations had any different information than what was reported on Monday.
The newspaper opens its web pages to reader interaction. A reader posts a tip and the paper follows up on it. They are ahead of the authorities on the investigation. They get the answer, because the reporter had the right information to do the asking with.

Welcome to modern journalism and web-based, interactive newspapers.
Things Don't Change Much

If you want proof that things don't really change all that much, and that human nature is pretty constant, try reading this column about articles in the Enid, Oklahoma, Daily Wave.

Commecialisation of Christmas?
The stores were crowded this afternoon. Plenty of Christmas goods were on display, and the busy buyers looked them over eagerly. The prospect for a fine Christmas trade could hardly be excelled.
Even the Commercial Appeal's new-look, people-centric style is very familiar:
Mrs. W.J. Hughes and daughter, Miss Elste Hughes, gave the second of a series of receptions in their home on West Broadway yesterday afternoon. About 50 guests were present and enjoyed a very pleasant event. After games and music, a delicious luncheon was served to the guests.
At the time this was written, Oklahoma wasn't even a state. This was the era of Teddy Roosevelt, silent pictures, Model-T Fords and horse-drawn carriages sharing streets, the Spanish-American War.

Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

You Know the Drill

If you're here about the bloggers bash, follow the link for more info and some graphics you can use. Or just scroll down; you might find some interesting reading on the way.

Otherwise, no posting until Wednesday night or, as is more likely these days, Thursday sometime. Wednesday is Busy Day and I'll be away all day.

Heard any good jokes lately? I'm not a joke person; more of a wit, pun or quip sort of guy. You know: japery. However:
A police officer is cruising the streets, doing his rounds, when he sees a guy with twenty ducks in his car. He pulls the guy over and demands, "What are you doing? Take those ducks to the zoo. Right away!" He lets the guy go, with a warning.

The next day, the cop is back on the same street when he sees the guy with the ducks again! He pulls the guy over and says, "Didn't I tell you to take those ducks to the zoo yesterday?"

The guy says, "I did! But today they want to go on a picnic."

Later taters!
Sydney Riots Gain Form

The rioting in Sydney continues, though on a much reduced scale. You can read the usual news coverage at The Australian and from the Sydney Morning Herald, or by listening to Sydney talk-back radio station 2GB.

I've been listening to 2GB off and on, and looking for some local reporting with some success. The history and shape of the problem is beginning to come into focus. The American press line is "racist white Australians, egged on by hate caused by the War on Terror, are attacking innocent Arab-Muslim Australians." The truth, as is often the case, is much less terrible, more local, and more prosaic.

First, the history of violence in Sydney isn't recent. Via Tim Blair comes this 1974 report, which notes:
Jennifer Cornwall, who is writing a municipal history of the shire, said Sunday’s riot was part of a continuing problem fanned by the rise of Pauline Hanson, Tampa and terrorists. “Now they’re fighting the ‘Lebs’, as they call them, but I have a 1974 report by the council on problems between locals and so-called ‘wogs’ that talks about parochialism and racism,” she said. “Before that, the locals fought the ‘Bankies’. Really, it’s partly about protecting your territory from outsiders and sticking with your mates."
The whole article is the usual lefty blather, but buried within are nuggets like the above.

Reading around, I came across this tale of growing up in the center of the rioting, Maroubra Beach. The blogger is a Sydney cabbie with a street-level view of what's happening.

What we learn is something very familiar, especially Lefty students of class struggle.

The area is a tough, working class neighborhood. There is a strong sense of community that would be very familiar to any New York Bronx, Chicago South Side or Los Angeles South Central resident. When people are packed into low income, run down neighborhoods, sense of place becomes very important. For young men who otherwise have no outlet for their boisterousness and aggression, defending their "turf" and falling into gangs happens quite easily.

Add to this the surfer territoriality. I can remember back in the Seventies a band from California, America's Surf Central, called The Surf Punks, who had one album, Locals Only and their "hit" My Beach. It was funny to us Southern boys, but fighting for control of the local surf and keeping out the invaders was serious business.

Beaches and surf are limited resources. When your beach becomes popular and others (in academe-speak "The Other") start showing up and competing with you to take a part of that away, you get defensive. Mix all this together and you get a volatile situation.

What's been happening in Sydney is that Lebanese-Australian (LA) young men have been coming to the beaches from their inland neighborhoods. The "'Bra boys" as they are called, have been defending their turf. There have been confrontations. It's the stuff of classic American working class novels and movies.

Now, let's add in some more complexity. The "lebs" (the most recent slang insult name) are bringing in their culture, which says that women who dress in bikinis and shorts and tight tops are whores. They are taught that these women deserve whatever happens to them. The LAs have no reason to respect these women, as they aren't taught to respect the larger Australian law and political culture when it conflicts with their religious culture.

The result has been years of reports of gang rapes and assaults but little apparent response. The police and government have been treating these gingerly, bowing to political PC pressure. The LAs learn to further disrespect the police and the law. The working class white Australians also learn not to respect the law and the police.

New wrinkle: while the cops can and do make a lot of arrests, they have a problem with judges in courts releasing people on easy bail, to return overnight to the streets and back into the conflict.

It all came to a head Sunday, December 4th, when another gang of LAs swaggered onto Maroubra Beach. These men attacked the two life guards on duty, sending them to the hospital. The 'Bra boys had to respond, not to the assault -- because they also have issues with the life guards who are seen as extensions of the police -- but because of the flexing of muscle on "their" beach.

Another factor is alcohol. The anger of the crowds was fueled by alcohol, as many people admit. The government and police have reponded to this by getting new powers to ban sales of alcohol in certain parts of Sydney (shades of American laws that restricted alcohol sales to keep lower class workers in line) and also to create "spot zones" where alcohol is banned. Part of the problem with this approach is that the LAs don't drink alcohol. It's banned in their culture.

And so began the back-and-forth cycle of attack and response by counter-attack. This past weekend may have been the peak, as the Sydney community is responding rapidly and with concern. But there have still been incidents, like an expected attack against a mosque and a fire-bombing of a church last night.

The press has been doing a spotty job of reporting the violence, because the Australian press is much more worried about PC than their American counterparts. "Men of Middle Eastern appearance" is the euphemism of choice. So is reporting violence and action without mention of which "side" is doing it. Like these examples:
• A 23-year-old man was in St George Hospital ...[with] a knife embedded in his back ... [after] an altercation outside a golf club with a "group of males of Mediterranean or Middle Eastern appearance".

• The Australian flag at the Brighton RSL Club and burnt it in the street. Youths were seen at a garage filling bottles with petrol in nearby Monterey.

• 50 carloads of youths smashed more than 100 vehicles with baseball bats and other weapons

• Gunshots near Northies Hotel at Cronulla

• At Caringbah... four men got out and began attacking patrons of Antonio's Pizzeria. They knocked a woman unconscious on the footpath and smashed the window of a denture clinic.
All were commited by Arab Muslim men, but the reporting leaves it open.

At heart, then, this is mostly a not-atypical lower class turf struggle. But we must add to this the "clash of civilisations" that is also going on. Because the two sides have very different views of how society in Australia works. This, too, is an old story. America went through great spasms when Eastern European, Mediterrainean and Irish immigrants began to arrive in America in the late 19th century. The new immigrants were seen as smelly, ignorant, drunken; with strange and base mores; little more than animals. They were herded into slums and encouraged (whether by police or bigotry) to stay there.

It took decades for this country's dominant white Anglo-Saxon, Protestant over-culture absorb them. You can still see echoes of the old fears and stereotypes in popular culture. (Irish cops, Saint "Paddy's" Day, making fun of funny foods and accents) You see new struggles as we work to absorb the growing Hispanic minority.

But in all these cases, the cultures share a lot of things. Christian, European (or Euro-derived) foundations cross all these peoples. In places like Europe and Australia where Arab-Muslim immigration is greater and their minorities are larger and less well-integrated, the values that affect public behavior, family behavior, duty and responsibility, and especially religion are markedly different. Though family, work and community are both highly valued, they find their expression in very divergent ways.

For the Euro-PC leftists, much of Arab-Muslim culture is seen as little more than barbaric and primitive. While they may pay lip service to values like "tolerance" and "respect" they don't act it out. In fact, they will frequently try to use their daily interactions to try to "educate" the Arab-Muslims (especially the women) into Western, secularised, values.

Now, I happen to agree with many of those values -- work, education, freedom of expression, control of self. It's in being seen as shoving it down their throats that we create a defensive posture in return, one that encourages retreat into their own community rather than melding with the larger, native one. A hostile dominant culture creates a self-protecting smaller one.

This is all old news. We've seen it happen around the world, over and over. It's just that this time, the gap between the two colliding cultures is sharper this time. This time, the dominant culture is also very tepid, conflicted and hesitant in assimilating the smaller one. Rather than assume that the new will be brought into the old, leaving traces of itself in the new mix, we have PC Lefties who seem ambivalent, who want to bring in the old culture but somehow without removing any traces of the old nor inflicting the values of the new while still expecting the values of the new to magically appear in the old, welcome and problem-free.

That's a pipe dream, of course. It's going to be a mess; it always is. Folks will be hurt and some aspects of culture will be lost. If we want to make sure that Western, capitalist, democratic, secular values succeed -- and I do -- we must make sure that other, conflicting values are changed. We must be dominant, like it or not.

What's happening in Europe and Australia is a result of wanting things both ways. It can't happen, so you end up with ghettos of minority culture inside an oblivious and self-satisfied majority. Add in political alienation -- always attendant when one group is an estranged minority -- it becomes a volatile mix guaranteed to explode at some point.

Australia seems more willing to address their immigration assimilation problem more openly. Good on them! They are seeing these riots as "grog-fueled yob behavior," (according to one Australian pundit) which is true to a very large extent. Their solution comes in finding ways to both blunt and channel young male aggession first, and then finding ways to bring their minority further into Australian society and culture.

They are having the same idiotic battle on how this happens as the rest of the Anglosphere. Many PC Lefties are abashed at their own culture, even self-loathing in many cases, but absolutely unwilling to change it except in their own image. This often has little to do with the values of the immigrant society, and more to do with utopian delusions. For all its other faults, the old WASP and "One Australia" cultures had tremendous power and cohesion, a strong ability to bring other cultures into itself while not entirely obliterating them. The arrogant pride was dangerous, especially to the immigrants and to foreign nations, but accomplished a lot of good and made possible the gains of recent decades.

That is the new problem for the Anglosphere, recognising when to slow down change, to begin rejecting change for its own sake, and to pause long enough to incorporate and adapt to what its absorbed. It also involves looking to some values that have been rejected, or are in the process of being rejected, and figuring out how to re-strengthen them with the new paradigm.
More on the Oklahoma Geysers

The mud / water / gas geysers in Oklahoma that I posted about here are now spreading into a two-county area.

Local authorities seem to be relatively certain it's not a leak in any gas pipelines. It's noted that the leaks seem to be following the path of Winter Camp Creek (nee Dead Indian Creek), which seems to indicate a natural origin.

The story mentions that the water bubbling up is "cold." That's good news, since it tends to discount the possibility of hot magma rising to the surface. In some comments attached to the story, other possible explanations are offered, most centering around natural gas deposits naturally shifting closer to the surface.

Floppy Coppy

Via Samantha Burns comes word from Britain that they are employing ten cardboard police officer cutouts. (Link has picture.) What's scary is that the cardboard cops are working!

Monday, December 12, 2005

Salt Mines and Water Don't Mix

While doing research for the next post, I ran across the story of the Lake Peigneur Disaster.
The five-man night crew had run into some drilling problems during their shift and decided to stay a while until the seven men day crew showed up at 6:00 AM. By 6:30 AM, the drilling rig started to tilt slightly. The crew suspected that the drilling rig was collapsing under their feet. They radioed Texaco's district office in New Iberia about the problem. Both crews decided to abandon the platform and head for shore, which was just 200 to 300 yards away.

The water of Lake Peigneur slowly started to turn, eventually forming a giant whirlpool. A large crater developed in the bottom of the lake. It was like someone pulled the stopper out of the bottom of a giant bathtub.
The funniest part is this line from the end of the story:
The environmental catastrophe that was anticipated at the time of the accident never materialized.
You don't say.
Odd Geological Activity

Just aimlessly surfing around, I came across a story about geysers and mud eruptions in Oklahoma since Friday. (Another story here; also a discussion at Free Republic.)

My first thought was a possible connection to the New Madrid Fault Zone, but it's too far to the west. It is, however, in the Meers Fault Zone, which is still active, though in a very minor way.

Is the Meers zone becoming more active, as is happening at Yellowstone? What the Kingfisher, Oklahoma, stories don't include is whether the mud spattering up from the ground is warm or not. They also don't indicate how officials know that gas is coming out. (Other than the sound.) Natural gas is odorless; the sulphur smell we associate with natural gas is added by utility companies to help homeowners be aware of gas leaks in their homes.

There is a slight possibility the gas leak is from a ruptured line, but given the spread of the geysers around the area, that seems unlikely. The presence of mud means water is coming out with it, which might mean an area aquifer has a gas pocket in it that's somehow gotten close to the surface. Also, Kingfisher is a natural-gas producing area, so it could very well be natural.

But.... It might also be magma below the crust is moving closer to the surface, as it happening at Yellowstone. That's not a real danger, as the eruptions seem pretty minor, but it's something to watch. Geographically, Meers and New Madrid are darn close. Activity at Meers might mean something to folks around New Madrid.

Maybe. Most likely not. Still....
Being Too Careful

I had UPN30's 9PM newscast running in the background and caught anchor Bonnie Kinney actually talking about killer Stanley "Tookie" Williams' "alleged" victims. Alleged?

He's been convicted in a court of law and that conviction has been upheld repeatedly. He's going to die for those murders in a few hours. I think we can dispense with "alleged" now.

Jeez. Talk about cautious.
The Year in Review

James Lilek's look back at 2005:
Behold: 2005 was the most important year in human history.

Okay, maybe not. There have been better years, and worse ones. The Goths did not sack New York City. No plague. Asteroids didn’t deform the globe. The center held, and if some rough beast was slouching toward Bethlehem it appears he was diverted to a time-share in Branson for the season.

Nothing blew up—over here at least. Despite the usual rash of false alarms, Americans no longer seem to be waiting for the other shoe bomber to drop. The economy grew much more than gloomy reporters expected. The Batman movie was good, for a change. No one on the Supreme Court tested positive for steroids. Politically, the Administration seemed determined to get the third year of its second term out of the way in the first.

All in all, not bad. If something wretched happens in 2006, Aught-Five will be regarded like 2000, another year when we blithely sailed along, amusing ourselves with gaudy TV, insouciant Internet amusements, Powerball, and the transient couplings of toothsome thespians. Athens reborn!
Word for the Day

Via the new-to-me Double-Tongued Word Wrester:
Tramp Stamp: n. 1. a tattoo on a woman, especially on the back at or below the waistline. 2. a hickey (on a man).
Great amusement for language lovers.

Thanks and a hat-tip to Possumblog, who is one highly entertaining blogger of life near Birmingham, Alabama.
Rioting in Sydney

In the American press, the rioting taking place the past two days in Sydney, Australia, carries a faint tinge of "angry white Australians" attacking the Muslim community.

But dig deeper and the story is a bit more one-sided. And worrying. It began last weekend when a group of men of "Middle Eastern appearance" (the Australian press euphemism of choice; the slang word is "leb" for Lebanese, the majority of the immigrant, Arabic, Muslim population) showed up at a public beach and threatened the life guards. The men beat the two life guards bad enough to send them to the hospital. It was a battle over "beach turf."

If you want to hear the more unfiltered version of events, you can listen to Sydney Australian radio station 2GB. It's a news/talk station (the Australians call it "talk back" radio -- Have your say!) that is covering the latest developments as soon as they learn them, and fielding calls from Australians reacting to events. Bear in mind that Sydney is sixteen hours ahead of us.

The reactions are interesting. Mostly what you hear is concern for the public safety, and anger at armed groups of young men (regardless of ethnicity) making the streets a "war zone." There is also some angered confusion at the official response from police and government. The police are announcing a new riot squad -- that will be operational in January. The government is talking about banning the sale of alcohol (which the Muslim young men don't drink) in the affected areas, or in having the power to instantly create "spot zones" where the sales of alcohol is immediately banned. Yeah, right.

There was a report when I was listening earlier that police had raided a rooftop where they found dozens of Molotov cocktails and crates full of rocks, stockpiled by the Arabs. Shades of the Paris riots! There are also reports of guns being brandished and used by both "sides."

The reactions of the hosts to reports of guns is amusing to an American like me. They speak with horror and surprise and a certain amount of disgust. But given that the primary weapons of choice are knives and fists at close range, and baseball bats to car windows all over the place, it's not a serious concern for them, yet.

Callers seem to be baffled at the lack of immediate action by government. Most plans I've heard generally involved getting ready for the next weekend, or finding the right force (local police are overwhelmed and unprepared, even in Australia's largest city; the Army is thought to be overkill) to bring in. Callers want community action right away, to defuse the anger and bring the young men under control.

It's interesting to listen to. The prevalence of text messaging to organise spot mobs and to plan actions (or responses) is making it hard for police to interdict. The shared language (although Ozzie accents can get thick) makes this situation much more accessible than the Paris riots were. (Though I stress that things down under aren't nearly as terrible as France.) It gives Americans a bit of an idea of what we might be facing in a few more years.

Or not. I've lost the link now, but a demographic study has shown that Muslim Arabs are never more than five percent of the population in almost all American counties. There are some exceptions -- parts of LA; Dearborn, Michigan -- but Muslim Arabs are a very small part, for now, of the American mosaic. There just aren't the packed-in ghettos nor the cultural and employment isolation Arabs face in Europe and, yes, Australia. Most Arab-Muslim Americans are busy about the business of living their lives.

Which is good news for us. But you should give a listen to 2GB for at least a bit to see what might have been. Or what may be.

[Digressions.] Sydney has had racial tensions for many years. If you read Tim blair's blog you'll see they've been dealing with it since the Seventies. But in recent years there have been regular assaults by "Middle-Eastern appearance" men against white Australians. This problem has been festering a while now.

It may be the summer heat which is triggering the explosion. (The public officials are also blaming alcohol.) Don't forget that Australia's seasons are opposite ours. Right now it's coming on high, hot summer Down Under. And if you listen to 2GB, don't forget that they are about seven hours ahead of us. Afternoon listening will get you the late-evening program.

Australian "talk back" radio hosts aren't conservative like in America. They are most decidedly more liberal. Like most other Anglo-descended nations (Britain, Canada, New Zealand, etc.) what they call conservatism is much more "big government" adapted than their cousin-strain in America. PC is way more observed and respected. Listening to the hosts' disbelief that "it's happening here" would be amusing, if the subject at hand wasn't so awful. They are also very observant that their actions and statements on the air have an effect on the situation, so they tend to behave in a more calming way. It's an interesting cultural difference, at least to me.

Really, skip the American press coverage, if you have any interest in this subject, and go straight ot the Australian coverage. Just go to Google and search there, or start with Tim Blair's blog and follow the links.

Last, the difference between Australian talk-back and American talk radio is striking. The hosts tend to keep their comments short and to the point, then get right back to the phones to hear what callers have to say. Callers are given long stretches of time, without interuption except for ad breaks, to make their points. Compare that to America, where the hosts talk, talk, talk and only give short time to callers. I can remember a time when people like Rush would give callers their time. No more; it's about the star now.

Even locally, someone like Mike Fleming will flap his yap incessantly, then rush through a few callers quickly, cutting them off or finishing their thoughts for them. You have to go to WDIA/1070 to hear people speak their whole mind, or Andrew Clark on WREC/600 on weekends. Clark is especially good at letting callers work themselves through their thoughts, though he suffers from a stable of regular callers who seem more concern with hearing themselves on the radio than with furthering discussion. I haven't listened to Janis Fullilove or Leon Gray in a good while, so I can't say what their shows are like.

EVENING UPDATE: I made a point of watching the BBC (World) evening news and CBS. The BBC was surprisingly even handed, for them, though they were explicit in laying blame on "neo-nazis and skinheads" (their term). CBS was much, much worse. They made sure to blame angry, simmering, white racism for all the problems. The incident last weekend with the two life-guards being sent to the hospital was an "allegation," a pretext for whites going berserk. They showed some folks on the street cleaning up broken car glass, implying it was caused by white rioters when in fact it was almost certainly the work of "men of Middle Eastern appearance."

The BBC at least addressed the Muslim Arab side of the problem, but CBS made it an explosion of white supremacy, pure and plain. Awful.

MIDNIGHT UPDATE: Here is an excellent analysis of what led up to today's riots -- police and governmental indifference to rising trends.