Following Up and Following Down – September 2015

boehnerAnother month has slipped by. WC had summer afternoons in junior high school that lasted longer than the first 8 months of 2015. but we’ll have a quick look back in the interests of blogging credibility. As always, WC’s magpie sensibility applies.

It’s the end of Shell games; at least for a long while. Royal Dutch Shell has announced it is abandoning efforts to drill for oil in the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas, of the north coast of Alaska. It has a lot more to do with the price of oil than the reported disappointing results of one well in the Burger Prospect. $110 a barrel oil might justify the risk; $40 a barrel oil not so much. As such, this isn’t a belated recognition by Shell that this was a stupid, dangerous idea. It’s a decision about shareholder return on investment. Still, WC is grateful for the outcome, if not the reasons.

Reader’s will recall WC’s displeasure with National Geographic. WC has had a response:

Our partnership with 21st Century Fox, and the subsequent endowment for our grantmaking division will allow us to continue supporting groundbreaking work in the areas of scientific research, exploration and geography education. The partnership makes it possible for National Geographic to fulfill its mission in a broader and more global community. The editorial integrity of the National Geographic magazine has been and always will be that of objective journalism, reporting on the consensus of the scientific community while employing the talents of the world’s very best journalists and researchers. We hope we can continue to count on your support of that work.

We have canceled your membership as requested. A refund of $39.00 will arrive within 3 to 4 weeks. Your membership will end with the issue dated December 2015.  We have appreciated your patronage and are sorry to lose you as a member. We hope you will consider giving us the opportunity to serve you again in the future.

National Geographic Customer Service

WC is reminded of Ambrose Bierce’s definition of a litigant: “A person about to give up his skin for the hope of retaining his bones.” As a motivation for its actions, WC thinks this latest explanation mixes greed, desperation and naiveté. WC wishes Nat Geo well with preserving that “objective journalism” thing. Murdoch isn’t a big fan of objectivity.

Volkswagen was revealed to have written the software that manages its diesel engines to detect when environmental tests were being performed, and to alter the behavior of the engine to allow it to pass those tests. The U.S. government didn’t detect the cheat. The next time a right-wingnut lays out his theory of the subtle, devious conspiracies of the all-powerful federal government, ask them to explain this one. Stay tuned for the indictments.

WC’s loathing for patent trolls is likely well-known to his readers. So you won’t be surprised that WC reports with glee that one of the worst patent trolls, MPHJ and its owner, Texas attorney Mac Rust, went down in flames again, trying to avoid the consequences of their crimes. The US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit rejected Rust’s argument that he shouldn’t have to appear in Vermont court for state unfair trade practices charges. Those carry treble damages. Rust’s financial hide needs to be nailed to the door as a warning to others.

U.S. House Speaker John Boehner has announced he is stepping down. It’s really a victory for the right-wing extremists and teabaggers in the U.S. House. It implies more government shutdowns, more Congressional gridlock and more failures to act for the rest of us. Boehner may not have been much, but WC fears anyone else will be worse. Take your choice among the Teabaggers, Chirstianists, anti-science clowns; all look like political Fukushimas. It comes down to this: our government is based upon compromise, and the folks who dragged down Boehner refuse to compromise.

Finally, military exercise Jade Helm concluded. Texas is still Texas. To that vast disappointment of the wingnut conspiracy whack jobs. Say, did you know that if you put the foil wrappers from A & W hamburgers in your car’s hubcaps it jams police radar?

We’ll stop there. WC’s needs to go find his Maalox.