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About Constancio Asumen, Jr.

Mr. Asumen has most recently assumed the responsibilities of Chairman-of-the-Board for ACE LILACS, a budding startup venture in the marketplace of ideas. The list of previous vocations he had engaged in before this, includes being a farmer, fisherman, stevedore, national scholar, college professor, journeyman laborer, freelance scribe, typesetter, proofreader, systems analyst, software developer, cab driver, etc. He holds a masters degree in Mineral Science & Technology (1973, Kyoto University) with a major in Exploration Geophysics. Somewhat of the quintessential Ivy League under-achiever, he is an embodiment of the can-do attitude so prevalent amongst most first generation Americans. He is an ardent adherent to the tenet that anything worth doing is worth doing well. Mr. Asumen maintains a website here.

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Past Articles
Incidental Lessons from Fluid Mechanics
In Search for Governing Virtues
Slouching Out of National Dyslexia
Dissonant & Delusional: The Activist Ideologue
Obama’s Contempt: Vestige of His Incompetence
Green Technology: A Poverty of Philosophy
Global Warming: The Religion that Failed
Consensus Does Not a Science Make
Historical Parallels & Intersections
The Repugnant Obama Paradigm
The Myth of Moderate Islam
ObamaCare: How Lucky Can You Get?
Assimilation Overkill Begets Bigotry

Constancio Asumen, Jr.
Incidental Lessons from Fluid Mechanics
June 19, 2010
 

Before I built a wall I'd ask to know
What I was walling in or walling out,
And to whom I was like to give offence.


And he likes having thought of it so well
He says again, "Good fences make good neighbors."

-- Robert Frost, Mending Walls

 

And the boy! He has seen the danger,

And, shouting a wild alarm,

He forces back the weight of the sea

With the strength of a single arm!

 

He sees no hope, no succor,

His feeble voice is lost;

 

But he never thinks he can leave the place

Where duty holds him fast.

-- Phoebe Cary (1824-1871), The Leak in the Dike

 

Peter, the legendarily celebrated lore hero of the Netherlands of yore had his instincts right. In order to avert disaster, one has to plug the leak by whatever means, even at the risk of life and limb. This common-sense derived pedestrian logic ever so familiar to any housewife who has to deal with an over flowing bath tub, has been apparently lost to those delegated the draconian tasks of capping the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Those charged with stopping the flow of undocumented illegal travelers, a.k.a. illegal aliens, across the Mexican border can likewise learn from Peter’s impeccable inklings.

 

Between the two situations, I hazard to argue, and prove if needs be, that the oil gush is more benign than the porous border. Moreover, the ultimate solution to the porous border needs to learn from the solution to the oil spill for it to be enduringly viable. These are some of the pertinent wherefores.

 

To begin with, it behooves to examine the objective parameters of both situations. These constitute the configuration of forces and factors that are in play and need to be put under control. In contrast, the subjective parameters constitute the totality of knowledge and quality of human talent that are brought to bear to furnish the solution. Obviously, both the oil spill and the porous border require the deployment of appropriate configuration of subjective parameters to arrive at a viable and lasting solution.

 

Objectively, the drilling breach involves dealing with primarily the laws of physics. Besides the chemical composition of the effluent which influences such properties as viscosity and specific gravity, ambient factors as pressure, temperature, wind and water currents, seabed dynamics, and the vagaries of the weather are crucial components to the solution.

 

Additional complications stem from the fact that there are three levels of ambient physical parameters to deal with. Moreover, all three environs, namely, the sea surface, the body of the water itself, and the seafloor are mutually interactive with one another. Each one of them may require a specific arsenal of specialized skills and knowledge, with the necessary overlap to meet the demands inherent to attendant interactivity.

 

By contrast, the border walling problem involves a seemingly simpler land-surface condition. However, the treachery of the human wit becomes a major component to the objective problem. This is not even a remotely quantifiable entity and arguably proves elusive to traditional engineering solutions.

 

Some of the factors typically considered in planning for an offshore drilling operation have been documented as follows:

 

"Prior to selecting drilling equipment for a project...consideration must be given to the weather conditions, water depths, drilling depths, rig mobility, availability and logistics of moving materials and supplies, means of transportation and numerous lesser considerations.”

With a history dating as far back as 1940, offshore drilling technology can certainly be considered as relatively mature. This is borne out by the following 2009 statistics when deep water and ultra deep water accounted for an aggregate of about 45% compared to 35% accounting for onshore finds:

 

"...deepwater (DW) and ultra deepwater (UDW) combined are becoming the predominant source of new oil and gas discoveries. From 2005 through 2009, giant and significant deepwater discoveries of oil and gas (41 Bboe [billion barrels oil equivalent], 2P reserves) were made . . . According to IHS, 2P reserves (proven plus probable) represent a 50% confidence level that the reported level is in-place and recoverable.”

 

The deepest drilling project I could find on record reveals, among others, the following pertinent statistics (1968 to 1983):

 

Generic Description

meters

feet

Deepest penetration beneath the ocean floor

1,741

5,745

Maximum penetration into basaltic crust

1,080

3,564

Deepest water (Leg 60 Site 461A)

7,044

23,245

 

Amanda Griscom Little, writing in 2007 for Wired Magazine on Chevron’s Cajun Express facility volunteered the following instructive tidbits (my emphases):

 

"... the world of ultradeep-sea drilling [is] the newest, riskiest, and most technologically extreme drilling frontier. Today, deep-sea rigs are capable of reaching down 40,000 feet, twice as deep as a decade ago: plunging their drills through 10,000 feet of water and then 30,000 more feet of seabed. One platform sits atop each so-called field, thrusting its tentacles into multiple wells dug into ancient sediment, slurping out oil, and then pumping it back to onshore refineries through underwater pipelines.”

 

The second emphasis was added as a brief but cogent reminder that directional drilling, as the stressed operation is referred to in technical parlance, has been in the marketplace since the early 1990’s. The need to drill for oil further offshore and in ever deeper waters was resultant to our surrender to the lunacies of the environmental movement. The point about directional drilling is, drilling tangentially and even horizontally, you can locate the rig in shallower waters, where bottom ambient physical conditions are less treacherous, and let the drilling go out to sea, or whichever direction you need or want to go.

 

The broader point is that the environmental movement’s fanaticism respecting pristine ecology prevents the oil industry from drilling right in our backyards, if need be. With the advent of directional drilling, it was not a matter of necessity that drilling had to be done vertically offshore. Rather the industry’s focus on offshore sites is an attempt at a painless avoidance of the onslaught of litigations, starting with getting the initial permits, from the environmental activists, co-opted into the bureaucracy especially at the radicalized Environmental Protection Agency.

 

The point that cannot be over emphasized is that the failure to stop the plume is not a failure in technology but a failure to deploy the appropriate complement of available Offshore Technologies that would be equal to the problem. To illustrate with imagery from the movie, Die Hard, the pathetic attempt to contain the problem is analogous to deploying a group of traffic cops to thwart the attempted takeover of Nakatome Plaza by Hans Gruber and his sophisticated thugs.

 

This is not to absolve BP from responsibility. Contrariwise, it serves to point out that the incompetent recalcitrance of BP in managing this crisis is rivaled only by the arrogant incompetence of the Obama regime. But President Obama being famous for voting "present” as a Senator, seems to have insisted to uphold his tradition. The White House Spinmeisters have been insisting that the federal government was there since "day one.” Being there, a phrase popularized by the Peter Sellers movie, has been adopted by this administration as a regime trademark.

 

Alas in situations fraught with gravitas, the governing class tends to gravitate towards complicated scenarios, rather than endeavor for a straight forward approach. Thus, to ensure a long-term solution to the crisis the White House has created a presidential commission to investigate the oil spill and deployed US Attorney General Holder and his brigade of lawyers to determine who is legally liable and who to sue eventually.

 

It is vintage Obama academic deployment and not co-incidental that the best known synonym for academic is "irrelevant.” But the country can finally sleep well and not worry about the spill. Hollywood has been deployed in no less a venerable personage of James Cameron of Titanic and Avatar fame.

 

Exercise in Irrelevance

There have been attempts at comparing the human and economic tolls of the BP mishap to that of Hurricane Katrina. There are vital differences between Katrina and the BP gush that bear stressing:

 

1) The potential energy of a hurricane is inherently erratic and unpredictable that of an oil reservoir inherently derivable from essentially knowable if not known parameters.

 

2) The location of the breach in Katrina was under local jurisdiction, from whom the federal authorities had to ask permission to intervene. The site of the oil gush is Federal territorial waters under control by Federal authorities. To deploy sorely needed countermeasures local authorities have to ask permission and under the mercy of every whim of the federal bureaucrats starting with the President himself.

 

3) There are no known mechanisms or mature technologies to control the kinetic energy unleashed by a hurricane. There are enough mature technologies available to control the physical kinetic energy coming from an oil reservoir.

 

4) The Obama regime is vent on downsizing the U.S. economy starting with the energy sector. The Bush administration was never so inclined and so hostile to the energy sector. It would therefore be just another section of the Saul Alinsky playbook to ensure that the mishap bludgeons BP and other "big oil” entities into surrender. It fits right into the Rahm Emanuel mantra to "...never want a serious crisis to go to waste."

 

These and kindred factors make any attempts at a comparison between the ravages of Katrina and the disaster resulting from the oil spill an exercise in bogus journalism, intent at obfuscating if not outright excusing the incompetence in crisis management so far exhibited by the Obama regime.

 

Priceless Lessons from the Spill

The most important lesson from the BP oil mess ought to be obvious: no amount of mopping up averts disaster unless the source is successfully plugged. It needs to be repeated explicitly and clearly because it is a reality we seem to keep disregarding, habitually especially as it pertains to the influx of undocumented travelers through the southern border.

 

Like the BP sludge that has despoiled pristine territorial waters in the Gulf of Mexico, destroying the livelihood of millions in the process, the influx of illegal aliens in the southern border is undermining the very concept of our national sovereignty. The wall has to be mended before any meaningful talk of any kind of immigration reform, comprehensive or otherwise, makes any sense. In answer to Robert Frost’s question, mending the wall would be walling out intruders who do not respect our laws simultaneously as it would be walling in our self perception as a nation of laws.

 

Suppose, by a miracle of miracles, the country finally develops the political will to enforce the law and the spine to round up all those undocumented individuals and transport them to the Mexican border. What happens then if the Mexican authorities simply disown them? In the absence of evidence that they belong to any other country, the U.S. would be stuck with the bodies of living human beings.

 

It would be a de facto reverse writ of habeas corpus, i.e., "you have the bodies, they are your problems.” Shall we have the moral courage and justification to just unload the people at the border? I hazard to guess that we do not. We have a long tradition of being a compassionate people. We shall have ended licking at the flat end of the immigration lollipop.

 

It would be another national nightmare for which we need another messiah to deliver us from. It would most definitely be much worse than a few thousand barrels of oil polluting our pristine waters and shores. It would be polluting our collective national soul.

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