Tag Archives: Seth Embry

The Gulf: Long on Oil, Short on Expertise

7 Jun

“The uncertainty surrounding the future of drilling is no small concern in a region so heavily dependent on the oil industry.” -The Washington Post, June 6, 2010

Seth: Few things are certain about the disaster (#1) that occurred at Deepwater Horizon. There was an explosion (#2), 11 workers were killed (#3), the oil rig sank with 700,000 gallons of diesel fuel on board (#4), and there is oil leaking from the well, about a mile underwater (#5). What caused the explosion and how much oil is leaking are important unanswered questions that pale in comparison to the question of the solution. Not much is known about drilling for oil at such depths; you can say BP is among the pioneers in the field. By the grace of God, disasters comparable to Deepwater Horizon are rare. However, as we all know, this blessing is the central reason BP has not been able to implement a solution thus far.  The latest attempt, a containment cap (think of an inverted funnel) is capturing about 10,000 barrels (420,000 gallons) of oil daily, which is estimated to be between forty and eighty per cent of the leak. The obvious problem with that estimate notwithstanding, the sheer numbers involved in this disaster are hard to wrap my head around. Take these official government numbers, as of June 5:

  • More than 20,000 personnel are currently responding to protect the shoreline and wildlife and cleanup vital coastlines. 
  • More than 2,600 vessels are responding on site, including skimmers, tugs, barges, and recovery vessels to assist in containment and cleanup efforts—in addition to dozens of aircraft, remotely operated vehicles, and multiple mobile offshore drilling units.
  • Approximately 15.2 million gallons of an oil-water mix have been recovered.
  • 125 controlled burns have been conducted, efficiently removing a total of more than 3.2 million gallons of oil from the open water in an effort to protect shoreline and wildlife.

Considering this enormous response, and the fact the that oil is still getting the best of us should shed light on the vast problem we face. Consensus is, that our best chance for a fix won’t come until August, when two relief wells should be able to plug the leak with cement. Truthfully, I didn’t get a real perspective on the leak until I saw the following pictures:

You can find more pictures here

You can find the government’s timeline of its own response here

This diagram from the Wall Street Journal breaks down the efforts to stop the leak:

There has also been controversy surrounding the Obama administration’s decision to halt all offshore drilling. This six month moratorium was put in place amid public protest concerning lax regulation from the Minerals Management Service, the government branch overseeing offshore drilling. Since that time, others have been clamoring for the moratorium to be lifted, as the oil industry supports more than 40,000 workers in the gulf area. Tomorrow’s edition of the Wall Street Journal reports that President Obama and the Department of the Interior will be releasing new safety regulations to allow for offshore drilling and exploration in shallow water. The moratorium on deepwater activity is not being reconsidered, even with the public’s outcry.

At the end of the day, this is an unbelievable situation that no one was prepared for. The more educated about this I become, the less hopeful I am for a positive resolution. This disaster will forever change the environmental and quality-of-life conditions for those living or working in the Gulf region, and beyond. The federal government truly seems to be responding as quickly and intelligently as possible; I have to give them the benefit of the doubt. However the magnitude of what they are dealing with far outweighs the available expertise.

Going forward, this should be a tremendous learning experience. Hopefully, progressive legislation concerning energy policy is on the horizon. That’s truly the best result we can hope from this mess.

Music For Your Ears (And Eyes)

17 Mar

Seth: I don’t know if I’m late, but on my drive home last week I heard a song, Somebody Come Get Me, by Melanie Fiona. If you haven’t heard the song, check it out. This is her, apparently in someone’s backyard with no track or instrumentation. She sounds good to me.

I recently saw the movie Shutter Island, and this song by Dinah Washington runs during the credits. It’s not the original music, but I think the update (and adaptation to the film) does her voice and the lyrics justice. If you haven’t seen the film, please do. I highly recommend it.

Lastly, a song by U2 entitled Staring at the Sun, in honor of the beautiful weather here in Philadelphia.

Lee Strobel – Answering Islam: Jesus is the Son of God

17 Mar

Ray: Like most people who think, I often struggle with religion and concepts presented by different religions. Growing up Christian, I was taught the Bible and that Jesus was the ONLY way to God. As I grew older and learned about other cultures and their beliefs, I began to grow suspect of different elements of my own fundamental beliefs. After discussing some of these thoughts with my aunt, she introduced me to a pastor names Lee Strobel. Not physically, but YouTubely.

From LeeStrobel.com:

Atheist-turned-Christian Lee Strobel, the former award-winning legal editor ofThe Chicago Tribune, is a New York Times best-selling author of nearly twenty books and has been interviewed on numerous national television programs, including ABC’s 20/20, Fox News, and CNN…

Lee was educated at the University of Missouri (Bachelor of Journalism degree, 1974) and Yale Law School (Master of Studies in Law degree, 1979). He was a professional journalist for 14 years at The Chicago Tribune and other newspapers, winning Illinois’ top honors for investigative reporting (which he shared with a team he led) and public service journalism from United Press International.

After a nearly two-year investigation of the evidence for Jesus, Lee received Christ as his forgiver and leader in 1981. He joined the staff of Willow Creek Community Church in South Barrington, IL, in 1987, and later became a teaching pastor there. He joined Saddleback Valley Community Church in Lake Forest, CA, as a teaching pastor in 2000. He left Saddleback’s staff in mid-2002 to focus on writing. He is also a contributing editor and columnist for Outreach magazine.

Lee Strobel deals with monumental questions on faith and religion. I thought this was extremely interesting. Check out the clips:

On Evolution (notice the mention of Temple University 🙂

Seeing God in Cosmology

Be Happy

16 Mar

Seth: Ray probably doesn’t know this, but his last post, Musée du Louvre, was our 199th post. That makes this our 200th! We are a celebratory people, and I thought we should celebrate this symbol of longevity with a special post of some sort. I looked at current events and thought about writing about the U.S. Congress’ healthcare reform efforts, the new National Broadband Plan proposed yesterday by the FCC that will take the U.S. out of the dark ages of internet (people are still selling dial-up in 2010!!! – how ridiculous!!!) or about something else significant and impactful. While perusing the web, I ran across an article in The New Yorker (read whole article here) about happiness research. Yes, that’s research into what makes people happy. What’s interesting about the research is it never suggests that what we think makes people happy (money, possessions, standards of living) actually does.

In 1978, one of the earliest and most significant contributions to that body of research  was begun. The study was centered on a group of lottery jackpot winners and those who recently suffered traumatic accidents that significantly downgraded their quality of life. There was a control group who experienced neither of the aforementioned incidents, and researchers were surprised that the lottery winners were no more happy with their lives than anyone else. This is surprising to me as well, as I’d assume myself to be happier if I had a few extra million dollars in my bank account – and that’s just the problem.

If I won a jackpot of say $50,000 I might go on a nice trip, pay down my mortgage, put some in savings and give to good causes, but I wouldn’t drastically change my lifestyle. The amount of money needed to drastically change my lifestyle – and sustain that change – is quite high, especially considering my young age. Research even shows that more realistic changes in one’s life (the article’s examples are having kids, moving to California and getting  raise) don’t have an effect on one’s happiness. This line from the researchers is key: “People routinely mispredict how much pleasure or displeasure future events will bring.

The focus of that phrase for people needs to be on the displeasure side. It seems that generally, we think we will suffer more displeasure from life events than we actually will. That said: live a little. Take some risks, go out on a limb, do something new. It turns out that you really don’t know what’s best for you after all.

I think this is the perfect way to celebrate Seth and Ray’s 200th. We could all be a little more happy.

Musée du Louvre

12 Mar

Ray: Americans are known for being pretty ignorant of anything that goes on outside the Unites States. Fight it as we may, it’s pretty true. I’m willing to admit that I knew nothing of Musée du Louvre until I saw Dan Brown’s Angels and Demons. There was a scene when the main character was running around Paris looking for a key object that may have been buried under a glass pyramid. The pyramid looked so intriguing in the movie that I had to look it up. Thus, Musée du Louvre.

According to several sources, the Musée du Louvre is the most visited museum on earth.  It truly is a glorious museum with over 35,000 pieces located over 650,000 square feet. Besides that fact that it holds world famous pieces like Leonardo’s “Mona Lisa”, the other thing that intrigued me was the building’s history. Musée du Louvre was originally a fortress built by French king Phillip II in the late 12th Century (sometime between 1180 and 12oo). However it was the famous King Louis XIV who first decided to use the fortress as a place to store collectibles. Finally, Musée du Louvre became a museum during the French Revolution to showcase the nation’s treasures.

Anyways, I’m sure you can find out much more in person. I just wanted to pique your interest. See you in Paris!

Men’s Business Casual in 2010

4 Mar

Ray: Seth and I like to consider ourselves to be distinguished gentlemen. Many of our friends and colleagues are as well. As such, I thought it would be nice to give a few examples of Business and Business Casual dress to help inspire our own wardrobes. Sorry I didn’t feel like explaining every piece. But here ya go…

Healthy Text Messages from Em

25 Feb

Ray: My close friends know that eating healthy is a very difficult challenge for me. I look for inspiration anywhere I can find it. One of my best friends is very health conscious and even runs marathons on a regular basis. I recently sent her a text seeking advice on how to build healthy eating habits. Here is what she texted me back.

Em: You have to train your body to want to eat healthier. Habits are made from repetition and creating new habits can feel foreign or awkward. When you eat healthy, you feel refreshed and energetic. When you want something sweet, eat a fruit. When you want something salty, only eat a little bit. Avoid eating saturated fats and eat between 5-6 times a day (3 meals and 3 snacks). Your biggest mean should be in the morning and don’t eat less than 2 hours before bed. Focus on your goal, visiualize it, immerse yourself in your goal and things will happen to get you there. Be your own competition. Also, carbs fuel, protein builds muscle.

You can also learn how to go to a drive-thru and still eat healthy. Pick Subway over McDonalds and pick tea over Coke. Skip dressing but add cheese and eat half the fries. Eat what you want, when you want to so that you won’t feel deprived and overcompensate when you eat.

Keep trail mix in the car, a protein bar and vitamin water can help you until a healthy choice is in sight. Eat yogurt and cereal as a snack. Also, you need lost of greens. Season them well and you’ll start to crave them. Soon, you’ll hate fast food and you’ll get sick if you eat it.